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Instagram, VR Headsets, Internet of Things, More: Wednesday Buzz, May 17, 2017

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

International Business Times: Instagram Face Filters Update: How To Use Eraser, Rewind, Hashtag Stickers, Other New Features. “Instagram rolled out more new features to the ‘stories’ part of the app that will look familiar if you’ve ever used Snapchat. Tuesday morning Instagram added more Snapchat look-a-like features like face filters, an eraser and a reverse function for video. ”

Variety: Google May Preview Its New VR Headset at I/O Conference (EXCLUSIVE). “Google plans to use this week’s Google I/O developer conference to give developers a first look at its next-generation virtual reality headset, Variety has learned from multiple sources with knowledge of the project. The headset is being described as a standalone mobile VR device, meaning that it won’t require a phone or a PC to run VR games and experiences.”

eWeek: Google Launches Cloud Service For Managing Internet of Things Devices. “Organizations looking for help managing their internet of things environment now have a new option from Google. Google has launched a Cloud IoT Core service that lets businesses connect their IoT sensors and devices to the company’s cloud platform so the devices can be centrally managed.”

ABC News: Ukraine to block access to Russia’s social media websites. “In another round of sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday ordered the blocking of access to Russia’s most popular social media websites and search engines. Poroshenko’s office on Tuesday published the decree that he signed a day earlier, freezing the assets and banning the operations of hundreds of Russian companies in Ukraine. The decree also calls for blocking access to dozens of Russia’s most popular websites for three years, including the search engine Yandex, social media network VKontakte and the email provider Mail.ru. All of them have a substantial audience in Ukraine.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

SEO Roundtable: Google: We Do Understand Our Highly Complex Algorithms. “Google’s John Mueller said it is not true that Google’s own engineers do not ‘know the exact composition of their highly complex algorithm.’ Many folks in our industry, including myself, doubt that one person at Google knows all the details of the algorithm. Some believe the algorithm has run away without most engineers knowing exactly how it works.”

Columbia Journalism Review: The Facebook rescue that wasn’t. “IF YOU GO TO THE HOMEPAGE of the Watershed Post, the online news source for the Catskill region of upstate New York, there are plenty of stories about rural regeneration: agritourism and a new creamery, the ongoing political wrangling over the development of the Belleayre ski resort, property ads where prices are significantly up from a few years ago. But one part of the region’s fortunes is not reviving: the Watershed Post itself.”

New York Times: Google, Not the Government, Is Building the Future. “The idea that Silicon Valley no longer funds big things isn’t just wrong, but also obtuse and fairly dangerous. Look at the cars, the rockets, the internet-beaming balloons and gliders, the voice assistants, drones, augmented and virtual reality devices, and every permutation of artificial intelligence you’ve ever encountered in sci-fi. Technology companies aren’t just funding big things — they are funding the biggest, most world-changing things. They are spending on ideas that, years from now, we may come to see as having altered life for much of the planet.”

The Bridge: How Social Media Became the New 911 Call. “By the time New York City’s aging 911 system marks its 50th anniversary next year, it will be largely surpassed by the new way citizens interact with authorities in case of emergency: through social media. When fires break out, flash floods strike, or cranes collapse, the city gets its richest and often fastest flow of information from New Yorkers via their mobile phones.”

Washington Post: The U.S. census is in trouble. This is why it’s crucial to what the nation knows about itself.. “The U.S. census has recently been the subject of political argument. After contentious discussions before a congressional panel, John Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, stepped down last week. To provide background information on the census and what it does, I interviewed Kenneth Prewitt, the Carnegie professor of public affairs and the vice president for global centers at Columbia University, and a former director of the Census Bureau, about how the census works, why it has become political and why it remains important.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

VentureBeat: DocuSign’s customer email database accessed by hackers after phishing scam. “Electronic signature service DocuSign said on Tuesday hackers had temporarily gained access to a database containing customer emails following a surge in phishing emails sent to its users. The company, which has about 200 million users, said the emails imitated the DocuSign brand to trick recipients into opening a Microsoft Word document containing malicious software.”

Oh boy. Gizmodo: Over 560 Million Passwords Discovered in Anonymous Online Database. “Kromtech researcher Bob Diachenko told Gizmodo on Tuesday that the leaky database contains roughly 243.6 million unique email addresses, an overwhelming majority of which were compromised during previous (and since secured) data breaches at LinkedIn, DropBox, LastFM, MySpace, Adobe, Neopets, and Tumblr, among others.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

The Verge: Facebook’s new research tool is designed to create a truly conversational AI. “Most of us talk to our computers on a semi-regular basis, but that doesn’t mean the conversation is any good. We ask Siri what the weather is like, or tell Alexa to put some music on, but we don’t expect sparkling repartee — voice interfaces right now are as sterile as the visual interface they’re supposed to replace. Facebook, though, is determined to change this: today it unveiled a new research tool that the company hopes will spur progress in the march to create truly conversational AI.” Good morning, Internet…

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