Snopes, WWII, US Government, More: Friday Buzz, December 23, 2016

There is a truly disturbing story in Forbes about Snopes and its response or non-response to a salacious story in the Daily Mail. I feel gross enough linking to the Forbes story; I will not link to the Daily Mail story (you should be able to find it easily enough if you want to read it.) I am linking to it because Facebook is touting Snopes as a cornerstone of its anti-fake-news policy. From the Forbes story: “When I asked for comment on the specific detailed criteria Snopes uses to screen its applicants and decide who to hire as a fact checker, surprisingly David demurred, saying only that the site looks for applicants across all fields and skills. He specifically did not provide any detail of any kind regarding the screening process and how Snopes evaluates potential hires. David also did not respond to further emails asking whether, as part of the screening process, Snopes has applicants fact check a set of articles to evaluate their reasoning and research skills and to gain insight into their thinking process.”


Oral histories from World War II are going online. “Executives at the National World War II Museum say creating a vast online collection of 9,000 existing oral and written histories will take longer than the war was fought: 10 years and $11 million dollars. There’s more than 22,000 hours of audio and video to be handled, thousands of documents to be digitized and millions of words transcribed. Ultimately, all these firsthand accounts of Pearl Harbor, the D-Day invasion, Germany’s surrender, Hiroshima, the home front and more will be online.”


The United States government has begun asking some foreign travelers about social media. “Since Tuesday, foreign travelers arriving in the United States on the visa waiver program have been presented with an ‘optional’ request to ‘enter information associated with your online presence,’ a government official confirmed Thursday. The prompt includes a drop-down menu that lists platforms including Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as a space for users to input their account names on those sites.”


Nice. I’m all in favor of (consensual, clearly-disclosed) geotagging: How To Add Location To Instagram Stories Using Geotags In The App. “Today, Instagram announced a major upgrade to Stories with the addition of a new Instagram sticker tool that lets users add seasonal stickers and stickers with contextual info like the weather, time, and location. If you’re wondering how to add locations to Instagram Stories using geotags in the app, look not further. I’ve got the full story here — and the short version is ‘It’s super easy.'”


From the Atlantic: Searching for Lost Knowledge in the Age of Intelligent Machines. “Scholars have long wrestled with ‘undiscovered public knowledge,’ a problem that occurs when researchers arrive at conclusions independently from one another, creating fragments of understanding that are ‘logically related but never retrieved, brought together, [or] interpreted,’ as Don Swanson wrote in an influential 1986 essay introducing the concept. ‘That is,’ he wrote, ‘not only do we seek what we do not understand, we often do not even know at what level an understanding might be achieved.’ In other words, on top of everything we don’t know, there’s everything we don’t know that we already know.”

A good one from Backchannel: Voice Is the Next Big Platform, and Alexa Will Own It. “Just as Apple taught us that a small portable phone could be a more powerful computing method than our lumbering desktops, Amazon is introducing us to a new computing interface — a voice devoid of a screen—that will eventually grow to be more ubiquitous and more useful than our smartphones. Forget the onerous process of pulling your Pixel or iPhone from your pocket, unlocking it, opening apps, and tapping your desires onto a screen. (Ugh!) Soon, you’ll speak your wants into the air — anywhere — and a woman’s warm voice with a mid-Atlantic accent will talk back to you, ready to fulfill your commands.”


Some serious security issues in Ubuntu Linux have recently been patched. “Donncha O’Cearbhaill, an Irish security researcher, found a remote execution bug in Ubuntu. This security hole, which first appeared in Ubuntu 12.10, makes it possible for malicious code to be injected into your system when you open a booby-trapped file. This can be used to crash your system or run malware. It does not — a small blessing — enable attackers to become the root user.”

The latest site in our ongoing breachapalooza is “, the online learning unit of LinkedIn, has reset passwords for some of its users after it discovered recently that an unauthorized external party had accessed a database containing user data. The passwords of close to 55,000 affected users were reset as a precautionary measure and they have been notified of the issue, LinkedIn said in a statement over the weekend.”

Google is being called in to help fix a serious privacy / security blunder. “National Australia Bank has sent account details of 60,000 overseas customers to an incorrect email address, with the bank now working with regulators and Google to rectify the failure. The blunder has compromised the private information of new customers to NAB, with the error coming out of the migrant banking team.”

Krebs on Security has a report about a big ad fraud problem. “New research suggests that an elaborate cybercrime ring is responsible for stealing between $3 million and $5 million worth of revenue from online publishers and video advertising networks each day. Experts say the scam relies on a vast network of cloaked Internet addresses, rented data centers, phony Web sites and fake users made to look like real people watching short ad segments online.”


A reasonable question, somewhat answered in this article from NextGov: What’s the Argument for Not Shutting Down Yahoo Mail Immediately? “In light of these massive security lapses, a number of questions are being asked, such as: Is the Verizon deal dead? How do you close your Yahoo account? And actually—why doesn’t Yahoo just do everyone a favor and close itself down?”


Don’t forget, NORAD is still tracking Santa. Good morning, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Categories: morningbuzz

Leave a Reply