Canada Startups, Department of Defense, Facebook Reach, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, May 8, 2018


Financial Post: Finally, a free open-source database for all Canadian startup information. “Hockeystick’s open database won’t include the private financial information the company’s clients currently pay for. But it already includes basic data – company name, industry, principals and funding sources – on 7,000 startups, as well as listings for 157 VC firms, 44 angel groups, 200 accelerators and 600 government programs. Hockeystick founder and CEO Raymond Luk hopes the database will help founders locate support programs and angels in their own cities, while giving investors more accurate information on promising companies.”

ProPublica: Get an Inside Look at the Department of Defense’s Struggle to Fix Pollution at More Than 39,000 Sites. “For nearly 45 years, the Pentagon kept its program — the Defense Environmental Restoration Program — out of the spotlight, and most of these sites have never been scrutinized by the public. However, the agency has meticulously tracked its own efforts, recording them in a detailed internal database. We were the first to see it, ever. Now we’re sharing it with you.”


Search Engine Journal: 4 Unconventional Ways to Reclaim Lost Facebook Organic Reach. “Facebook has been the hot-button topic of social and political discussions for the past few weeks. Even still, more than 2 billion people still use the platform monthly, totaling to 50 million hours of usage. But reaching those users without paying a now massively increased advertising cost still feels next to impossible.” I hope you don’t take this as clickbait-y, because the whole article is really worth a read, but #2 is so counterintuitive I’m going to be thinking about it all day.

Witness Media Lab: Using Facebook In An Era Of Mass Deportation. “For many across the country, learning about the Cambridge Analytica scandal was the first time they became aware of how their data and security are often compromised by the social media platforms we engage with every day. As law enforcement agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) continue to function unshackled by the new administration, immigrant communities, activists, and other marginalized folks in the U.S. face increased threats to their safety and security that go far beyond Cambridge Analytica. Understanding how we engage with social media platforms, and how information can be collected and potentially used against us is critical to our community defense.”


Washington Post: EPA’s climate change website went down a year ago for ‘updating.’ It’s still not back.. “The news came on a Friday evening in late April last year: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had removed an informational website about climate change, taking down a page that had been up, in some form, for nearly two decades and under three presidents…. But a year later, the agency’s climate page is still down, and would-be visitors are redirected to a notice saying that ‘this page is being updated.'”


SC Magazine: Ghosts in the machine: Researchers reportedly find eight more Spectre flaws in CPU chips. “CPU chip manufacturers are facing a brand new onslaught of Spectre speculative execution vulnerabilities, some of which could be disclosed as soon as Monday, May 7, German technology news outlet c’t has reported.”


The Western Journal: Facebook Accused of ‘Suggesting’ Terrorists Add Each Other as Friends. “[Gregory] Waters and fellow researcher Robert Postings examined the Facebook activity of 1,000 Islamic State supporters in 96 countries. They said that terrorists were often introduced to one another through Facebook’s ‘suggested friends’ feature. Postings said that after clicking on news accounts of the Islamic uprising in the Philippines, he received a vast number of friend suggestions connecting him with extremists in that part of the world.”

MIT Technology Review: AI generates new Doom levels for humans to play. “The game is notable because it pioneered 3-D graphics for PCs running MS-DOS, introduced networked multiplay, and even allowed players to create their own game levels. Indeed, large numbers of Doom levels—both official and player-created—are now freely available online, forming a formidable corpus for study and research. And that raises an interesting possibility. Is it possible to use this data to train a deep-learning algorithm to create its own levels of Doom that a human would find compelling?”

Nature: The ethics of catching criminals using their family’s DNA. “Last week’s arrest of a suspect in the Golden State Killer case in California has highlighted how DNA samples that have been volunteered for one purpose — in this case, genealogy — can be used for other reasons, often without the donor’s explicit consent. Several ethicists have expressed concern about US detectives using a genealogy website in this way. Coming so soon after the reuse of Facebook data in political campaigns in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s another example of how new technology and techniques lead to unexpected conundrums, and how ethical and societal debate must catch up.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Categories: afternoonbuzz

1 reply »

  1. Re: Facebook Accused of ‘Suggesting’ Terrorists Add Each Other as Friends –

    That sounds as though Facebook is working with the CIA to help them assemble lists of Terrorists and friends.

    Of course, the same logic applies to any group – criminals, journalists, paedophiles, etc. that are stupid enough to use Facebook.

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