Freedom of the Press, Passwords, Energy Access, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, August 3, 2017


Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: New website tracks press freedom violations in United States. “Today, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press joins more than 20 press freedom organizations announcing the launch of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a new nonpartisan website dedicated to documenting press freedom abuses across the United States.”

The Next Web: This site lets you check your password against 306 million leaked passwords. “…Troy Hunt, the founder and creator of Have I Been Pwned, has launched a tool where you can check your password to see if it’s been compromised. The way it works is pretty simple. Just type in your password, and it will compare it against a database of over 306 million passwords, collected over several years.” Yeah no, I’m not typing in my passwords anywhere but a login box, but this is fun to play with. (Someone used 111 as a password? Really?)

ESI Africa: World Bank launches online electricity access tracking tool. “The World Bank in partnership with the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, have launched an electricity access tool to track more households without electricity connections. Explaining how the Electrification Pathways application works, the Bank stated that the tool considers a variety of open, geospatial data to determine the least-cost options for bringing electricity to areas as granular as 1 square kilometre in size.”


WordPress 4.8.1 is now available.

CNET: YouTube gets faster, more accurate in fight against terror videos. “YouTube has announced updates in its ongoing fight to prevent the video platform from being used to promote terrorist content.”


Science Magazine: China cracks down after investigation finds massive peer-review fraud. “A massive peer-review fraud has triggered a tough response from the Chinese government. Officials last week announced that more than 400 researchers listed as authors on some 100 now-retracted papers will face disciplinary action because their misconduct has seriously damaged China’s scientific reputation.”

Politico: Zuckerberg hires former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have hired Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist to Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the hire.”


Sixth Tone: Chinese Academic Database Sued for Copyright Infringement. “A Chinese copyright society has filed suit against the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), the country’s largest online library for academic works, accusing them of violating intellectual property rights, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Tuesday.”

RESEARCH & OPINION Where there’s fire, there’s smoke—and social media. “When people see smoke on the horizon, what do they do? Besides (hopefully) calling fire authorities, they post to social media, of course. The fact that people reliably flock to social media to discuss smoke and fire was the inspiration for a new study by Colorado State University atmospheric scientists. Driven to innovate ways to improve the air we breathe, the scientists have shown that social media, Facebook in this case, could prove a powerful tool.”

Quartz: In defense of Reddit’s oldness. “The new Reddit will likely look a lot more like social media sites, according to Recode, with large image blocks and visual ‘cards’ formatted to entice visitors to click on more content…. This approach makes sense for Reddit, a company with investors who want a return on their money. But it doesn’t make sense for Reddit, the place to click on links and talk with people about unusual shared hobbies and sometime get harassed by a stranger you could probably track down in real life based on breadcrumbs of personal tidbits they’ve shared on the internet through comments and posts.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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