Facebook Ads, Restaurant Menu Search. WordPress, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, May 11, 2018


NBC News: Fans of Sean Hannity, Black Lives Matter among targets of Russian influence campaign. “Russian propaganda efforts used ads on Facebook and Instagram to push divisive messages to fans of a variety of pages including Black Lives Matter and Fox News host Sean Hannity, according to a new batch of sponsored posts released on Thursday. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee just released thousands of divisive ads created by the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-backed organization that targeted American voters on Facebook and Instagram around the 2016 presidential election.”

PR Newswire: Sirved Announces a New Menu-Based Search Engine App That Empowers People to Find What They Are Craving (PRESS RELEASE). “ is a new search engine and mobile app tool dedicated to menu discovery that empowers people to find rare, unusual, obscure foods and almost any food people crave, served at local restaurants in any city or town. Unlike major search engines like Google or Bing, which can only find restaurant listings, Sirved helps people find the exact food they are craving.” First: turn off your ad blocker or you might have trouble loading the site. Second: I know for a fact there are two restaurants near me which serve kibbeh. Sirved didn’t find either of them. So I dunno…


My Reddit monitor just tipped me to what looks like a brand new WordPress plugin: Lister for The WP Blog List. “The WP Blog List ( aims to find, organize and make accessible the world’s WP blogs. We will provide our visitors with ways to find new and interesting blogs, filter blogs and see whats popular. Listing is totally free. The list is human curated and all blogs are checked before appearing.” I’m interested in this but I’m kind of scared of WordPress plugins at this point.

Google Blog: 100 things we announced at I/O ‘18 . “That’s a wrap! After a bustling three days at Google I/O, we have a lot to look back on and a lot to look forward to, from helpful features made possible with AI to updates that help you develop a sense of digital wellbeing. Here are 100 of our Google I/O announcements, in no particular order—because we don’t play favorites. 💯”


Lithium Community: Sunsetting Klout. “I’m writing to let you know that Lithium has made the decision to sunset the Klout service, effective May 25, 2018. Lithium is committed to providing you with the technology and services that will enable you to differentiate your customer experience. Our recent launch of Lithium Messaging is evidence of our focus on this mission. The Klout acquisition provided Lithium with valuable artificial intelligence (AI) and machinelearning capabilities but Klout as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy.”


The Globe and Mail: Jim Balsillie urges MPs to regulate ‘surveillance capitalism’ of Facebook and Google. “A group representing Canada’s tech CEOs told MPs that Facebook and Google represent a new form of ‘surveillance capitalism’ and called for European-style regulation over the U.S.-based web giants. Jim Balsillie, chair of the Council of Canadian Innovators, told MPs that immediate government action is required to protect Canada’s commercial interests and the privacy of individuals.”

From Motherboard, with a warning for the headline: Leaked Documents Show Facebook’s Struggles With Dick Pics. “Facebook’s moderators are grappling with the challenges of revenge porn, sextortion, and people sharing unsolicited dick pics with users, according to newly leaked documents obtained by Motherboard. The company’s moderators have recently been told to stop punishing people who complain about receiving dick pics, which shows how Facebook’s own policies around nudity are constantly evolving.”

GlobalVoices: Billions Served? Human Rights in the Facebook Era . “During the 2011 Arab Uprisings, Facebook proved itself to be one of the most powerful technological catalysts for free speech and democratic mobilization that the world had ever seen. While it did not cause the uprisings, it was a critical driver of their growth. In that same year, the number of Facebook users in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East (i.e. the ‘Global South’) surpassed the number of users in Europe in North America. From this moment on, it was truly a global platform, despite being a US company.”


New York Times: Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can’t.. “Over the past two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.”


New America: Bringing the Public Back In: Can the Comment Process Be Fixed?. “The public deserves a voice in the decisions we make as a democracy, including the regulations that govern our economy, foster competitive markets, and protect individual rights. In recent decades, the public comment process for agency decision-making has been the principal way in which government agencies understand and reflect the view of not only experts but average citizens whose lives will be affected by these choices. In order to participate meaningfully in decisions, citizens also need access to information about the agency and the data it has collected. But these processes—the public comment process, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and other transparency rules—are facing profound threats.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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