India Plants, Google, Social Media Monitoring, More: Tuesday Buzz, March 20, 2018


The Hindu: A knowledge hub for medicinal plants. “The use of Indian medicinal plants for drug discovery and therapeutics just received a boost. A database of such plants has been built by a Chennai-based team led by Areejit Samal of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences. By documenting 1,742 Indian medicinal plants and 9,596 chemicals that plants use to thrive and ward off threats (phytochemicals), this database has the distinction of being the largest so far. This is a first step towards validating and developing traditional systems of medicine that use plant extracts.” I could not find the URL of the database in the article. IMPPAT is available here – .


The Next Web: Google will start earning even more money from your shopping searches. “Google already earns revenue when you search for anything using its service and see ads, but it’s now turning shoppers’ queries into an even bigger money-spinner. Reuters reports that the company is partnering with major retailers like Target Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco to let them list their products in search results when you enter a query like, ‘Where can I buy this?'”


Naked Security: The Chrome extension that knows it’s you by the way you type. “Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) is more secure than relying on passwords alone – but could it be made even better? There is no shortage of ideas, one of which is keyboard dynamics (or biometrics), based on the long-understood observation that each person’s typing style is unique to them. Recently, a Romanian startup called TypingDNA has turned the concept into a free Chrome extension that can be used to add an extra layer of authentication to a wide range of websites by utilising this principle.”

Buffer Blog: Are You Listening? The 20 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools. “How do you know if your customers (and potential customers) are talking about you on social media? If they tagged your social media profile in their posts, you could check your notifications. If they didn’t, maybe you could search on each social media platform every time you want to find out. Sounds tedious? Here’s a better way: Use social media monitoring tools.”


Washington Post: Facebook may have violated FTC privacy deal, say former federal officials, triggering risk of massive fines. “Two former federal officials who crafted the landmark consent decree governing how Facebook handles user privacy say the company may have violated that decree when it shared information from tens of millions of users with a data analysis firm that later worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Such a violation, if eventually confirmed by the Federal Trade Commission, could lead to many millions of dollars in fines against Facebook, said David Vladeck, who as the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection oversaw the investigation of alleged privacy violations by Facebook and the subsequent consent decree resolving the case in 2011. He left that position in 2012.”

The Atlantic: What Took Facebook So Long?. “On Friday night, Facebook suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica, the political-data company backed by the billionaire Robert Mercer that consulted on both the Brexit and Trump campaigns. The action came just before The Guardian and The New York Times dropped major reports in which the whistle-blower Christopher Wylie alleged that Cambridge Analytica had used data that an academic had allegedly improperly exfiltrated from the social network. These new stories, backed by Wylie’s account and internal documents, followed years of reporting by The Guardian and The Intercept about the possible problem.” Facebook sorry for blocking Delacroix masterpiece over nudity. “Facebook admitted on Sunday making a mistake after it banned an advert featuring French artist Eugene Delacroix’s famous work, ‘Liberty Leading the People,’ because it depicts a bare-breasted woman. The 19th-century masterpiece was featured in an online campaign for a play showing in Paris when it was blocked on the social networking site this week, the play’s director Jocelyn Fiorina said.”


Bleeping Computer: Firefox Master Password System Has Been Poorly Secured for the Past 9 Years. “For at past nine years, Mozilla has been using an insufficiently strong encryption mechanism for the ‘master password’ feature. Both Firefox and Thunderbird allow users to set up a ‘master password’ through their settings panel. This master password plays the role of an encryption key that is used to encrypt each password string the user saves in his browser or email client.”

TorrentFreak: Founder of Fan-Made Subtitle Site Lose Copyright Infringement Appeal. “The founder of a site that provided fan-created subtitles has lost his appeal against a conviction for copyright infringement. In 2017 a Swedish court found that the unauthorized distribution of movie subtitles is a crime, sentencing the then 32-year-old to probation and a fine. The Court of Appeal has now largely upheld that earlier verdict.”

Tubefilter: Woman Who Fatally Shot Boyfriend In YouTube Video Prank Officially Receives 180-Day Jail Sentence. “The legal fallout relating to a YouTube video-related fatality has officially been resolved. Monalisa Perez, who shot her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz as part of an ill-conceived stunt the couple planned to post on their YouTube channel, has accepted an 180-day jail sentence stemming from manslaughter charges against her. Perez shot and killed Ruiz last June. The couple mistakenly thought that an encyclopedia would stop a bullet from a Desert Eagle handgun, but when Perez fired on her boyfriend at point-blank range, the round penetrated the book and mortally wounded Ruiz.”


Nieman Lab: Soft power — not government censorship — is the key to fighting disinformation and “fake news”. “Content regulation of material that — while perhaps problematic and uncomfortable — is often part of political debate smacks of censorship and is at odds with freedom of expression. Asking the executive branch to directly police acceptable speech is in direct tension with citizens’ fundamental right to receive and impart information and views without interference from public authorities. To demand technology companies police speech on their platforms without clearly defining how exactly they are supposed to do so — and who citizens can appeal to — is simply privatizing the problem.”

MIT Technology Review: AI tackles the Vatican’s secrets. “Even church archivists don’t know what mysteries lie hidden in the Vatican Secret Archives, since many of its documents have never been transcribed. A machine-vision system for medieval text is about to change that.” Good morning, Internet…

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