Campaign Finance, Vegan Alcohol, WordPress, More: Late Friday Buzz, October 6, 2017

Sorry I’m late, medical issue. Posts may be erratic for the next week.


MapLight: A Powerful New Tool to Search and Analyze Money in Politics. “As Americans unite in frustration with the outsized influence of money in politics, the question of whose money is funding candidates for public office is more vital than ever. With the sheer quantity and complexity of campaign finance data increasing in recent elections, citizens need tools that respond to the challenge, like MapLight’s new Campaign Contribution Search.”

New-to-me: Barnivore, a database of vegan alcohol. From the home page: “It might seem weird at first, but your favourite drink might have more than just alcohol in it. Brewmasters, winemakers, and distillers may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or they might use them in the processing and filtration…. Our 34,684 entries have been checked and often double or triple checked by the Barnivore community and are gathered here for you to enjoy, and maybe submit a check of your own.”


WordPress 4.9 Beta 1 is now available. It is not a security update.

Daily Dot: Facebook unveils new ‘context’ tool to help users spot fake news . “Facebook announced on Thursday it will begin rolling out a new tool to help its users spot fake news in the wake of revelations that the social media platform was exploited by Russia in an attempt to influence last year’s presidential election. The new tool will allow Facebook users to click a button on articles to learn ‘context’ about the publisher–which the company hopes will help readers determine whether the news is from a credible outlet.”

TechCrunch: Instagram Stories launches cross-posting to Facebook Stories . “Facebook Stories might not be a ghost town for long. After testing in Portugal last month, TechCrunch spotted the option to syndicate your Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories appearing to US users. Now Facebook confirms this feature is officially rolling out, and everyone should have it soon if not already. The only exception is businesses, since they’re not allowed on Facebook Stories yet.” When do y’all think Facebook and Instagram will just be merged together?

And in our “Man-do-I-feel-old,” department, from CNET: AOL’s AIM sets its away message… permanently. “AOL Instant Messenger, a popular form of communication in the early days of the internet, goes dark on Dec. 15, AOL, now a unit of Verizon’s Oath, said on Friday. AIM was once one of the dominant instant-messaging platforms on the internet, helped by the massive number of dialup subscribers using AOL internet service. After launching in 1997, it enjoyed its peak in the late ’90s and early 2000s.”


From my Twitter buddy Spencer Greenhalgh: Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons in 7 more videos. “Last year, I wrote a post about a series of YouTube videos that I used to give a guest lecture on copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons. It went well enough that I was asked to come back this year and guest lecture again. I made some tweaks to the presentation this time around, switching the order of some of the videos, and replacing a couple of them…. Rather than write everything out here (since there is a lot of overlap with last year’s post), I’ll embed the slides for the new presentation here; you can also check out this link if you want to see my presentation notes, too.”


Ars Technica: Return of the algorithm monster: YouTube auto-promoted conspiracy theory videos. “Worried about a dystopian future full of robots that decide how you see the world? You can wait until tomorrow’s fantastic Blade Runner 2049 to imagine how that might look in the future, or you can get there faster by logging in to modern YouTube. At least, that’s The Wall Street Journal’s take. The paper tested and confirmed some bizarre content-surfacing results on the massive video-sharing site as recently as this Tuesday. The results, which sullied its ‘Top News’ box with debunked rumors, drove YouTube to ‘accelerate the rollout of planned changes to its search engine,’ according to a YouTube source close to the WSJ.”

Techdirt: Elsevier’s Latest Brilliant Idea: Adding Geoblocking To Open Access. “We’ve just written about a troubling move by Elsevier to create its own, watered-down version of Wikipedia in the field of science. If you are wondering what other plans it has for the academic world, here’s a post from Elsevier’s Vice President, Policy and Communications, Gemma Hersh, that offers some clues. She’s ‘responsible for developing and refreshing policies in areas related to open access, open data, text mining and others,’ and in ‘Working towards a transition to open access’, Hersh meditates upon the two main kinds of open access, ‘gold’ and ‘green’.”


The Register: Microsoft silently fixes security holes in Windows 10 – dumps Win 7, 8 out in the cold. “Microsoft is silently patching security bugs in Windows 10, and not immediately rolling out the same updates to Windows 7 and 8, potentially leaving hundreds of millions of computers at risk of attack. Flaws and other programming blunders that are exploitable by hackers and malware are being quietly cleaned up and fixed in the big Windows 10 releases – such as the Anniversary Update and the Creator’s Update. But this vital repair work is only slowly, if at all, filtering back down to Windows 7 and Windows 8 in the form of monthly software updates.”

The Next Web: Flickr exploit allowed uploading tons of unwanted pics to user accounts. “Yahoo-owned image and video hosting service, Flickr, was suffering from a glaring flaw that made it possible for malicious agents to upload thousands of unwanted pics to the accounts of random, unsuspecting users. The defect resided in the Flickr’s Upload by email feature, which enables users to upload images straight to the platform by sending emails to a specific address, automatically generated and assigned to users by the hosting company itself.”


New York Times: What if Platforms Like Facebook Are Too Big to Regulate?. “Social-media companies aren’t new to defending themselves in ideological terms — they’re just not used to doing it on their home turf. While to authoritarian regimes, the threat of social media is obvious, in the United States, Facebook, Twitter and Google have for years talked about themselves freely in the language of democracy, participation and connectivity. The emerging tension between internet platforms and democratic governments, however, seems to stem less from their obvious rhetorical differences than from their similarities.” Good evening, Internet…

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