Disease Outbreaks, Twitter, Reddit, More: Tuesday Buzz, March 27, 2018


AAFP: New Online Tool Lets FPs Review Data on Disease Outbreaks . “The CDC has unveiled a new online data tool( that allows users to search through almost two decades of information collected on various types of enteric disease outbreaks in the United States. The so-called NORS Dashboard, launched March 12, provides family physicians and other interested parties with expanded access to disease outbreak data from the National Outbreak Reporting System.” The lead paragraph doesn’t make it clear, but it appears that the information system is available to everybody.


CNET: Twitter confirms it’s banning cryptocurrency ads. “As part of its commitment to “‘ensuring the safety of the Twitter community,’ the social media site is adding a new policy prohibiting the advertisement of initial coin offerings and token sales, a Twitter representative said Monday in an emailed statement.”


MakeUseOf: The 5 Best Reddit Sites and Apps for Beginners and Casual Users . “Reddit is the biggest online community today, but it can be overwhelming for newcomers. These sites and apps make it a little easier to use Reddit without being a regular. These tools will change the way Reddit looks (let’s face it, it’s a mess), let you manage saved posts easily, or even send emails of only things you care about. It’s Reddit for non-redditors, basically.”

Lifehacker: Remove Retweets From Your Twitter Timeline With Blindfold. “In its April issue, a writer at The Atlantic makes the argument that ‘retweets are trash.’ Whereas once if you wanted to repeat something someone else had said on the platform you would have had to create a whole new tweet and add a ‘RT’ in front of it, the addition of the retweet button has made it so people will often share the thoughts of others without fully thinking through those statements. Now there’s a new tool to actually make that happen called Blindfold.”


The Verge: Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D-printed Project Pushes Back Against ‘Digital Colonialism’. “The Iranian artist and activist Morehshin Allahyari is currently working on a project that transcends continents and centuries. Using ancient illustrations of Middle Eastern dark goddesses as her source material, Allahyari is producing 12 sculptures through a process of 3D modeling, scanning, and printing. The result is She Who Sees The Unknown, an attempt by Allahyari to reclaim ownership of traditional mythologies, and fight against “digital colonialism,” which she says is a recent trend that allows corporations to profit off of cultural artifacts of others.”

BuzzFeed: This Man’s Gun-Loving Friends Were Kicked Off Facebook. So He Started Gunbook.. “A British gun enthusiast whose friends were banned from Facebook for posting pictures of firearms has started his own version of the site for gun lovers. Called Gunbook, it was set up by David Scott, a 57-year-old shooting instructor who lives in Kilsyth, 20 miles from Dunblane. It went live three weeks ago and he says it already has more than 1,000 members, around 60 of whom are from the US.”

Vice: A Brief History of YouTube Censorship. “As the company’s struggle with copyright holders grew, activists in a number of countries were sharing videos on the platform to draw attention to local issues. In Morocco, for example, the now-famous ‘Targuist sniper’ posted videos of police demanding bribes from passing motorists that he had filmed from a nearby hill, sparking a national conversation about corruption. Tunisian activists used the platform to share video testimonies of former political prisoners. In response, the governments of both countries blocked YouTube. By 2008, more than half a dozen countries, including Brazil, China, Syria, Thailand, Pakistan, and Turkey had blocked the platform—temporarily or otherwise.”


AP: The Latest: Illinois county sues Facebook for fraud. “The chief law enforcement officers for 37 U.S. states and territories are demanding to know when Facebook learned of a huge breach of privacy protections. The officers say in a letter Monday to CEO Mark Zuckerberg that users’ trust in the social media platform is ‘broken.’ The attorneys general are asking how Facebook monitored what these developers did with all the data they collected and whether Facebook had safeguards to prevent misuse.” This is a liveblog type of story, looks like, which is why the headline looks so out of sync to what I’m quoting.

Engadget: New web security standard promises safer, faster browsing. “It’s safe to say that web security could use a tune-up given the deluge of malware attacks and data breaches. Thankfully, it’s about to get one. The Internet Engineering Task Force has approved Transport Layer Security 1.3, a new standard that makes some fundamental improvements to how and when web encryption kicks in. For the most part, int involves both shrinking the window of opportunity for intruders and preventing them from recycling code.”


Gizmodo: Schools Are Using AI to Check Students’ Social Media for Warning Signs of Violence. “In the hopes of deterring violence, schools are turning to big data analytics to examine social media posts for the earliest signs of violence—depression, resentment, and isolation. Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Massachusetts has turned to Social Sentinel, a data analytics company that says it can use the type of threat detection police agencies use to identify students at risk. But experts worry student social media mining, even with the best intentions, is a slippery slope to treating students the way we treat suspects.”

Monday Note: Mark Zuckerberg Thinks We’re Idiots.. “Surprise: Thanks to the Cambridge Analytica revelations, we’re finding out that Facebook allowed a much broader and deeper prostitution of our private data than it had previously claimed. Facebook’s disingenuous explanations call for more questions and even less trust.”

The Hindu: When logic takes a hike on Google Maps. “As anyone who has sat through grammar lessons can attest: language is a strange and amorphous beast, a spinner of expression that only the native speaker can truly understand, but not necessarily explain to others. A prime example of artificial intelligence going awry is the Google Maps application. While the English version is more or less accurate, the Tamil translations of place names is an inadvertent source of humour and outright ridicule.” Good morning, Internet…

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