Africa Education Research, Neurodegenerative Disease, Skype, More: Wednesday Buzz, July 18, 2018


SciDevNet: Africa’s first online database on education research. “A database on education research conducted by Africa-based researchers has been launched to raise the visibility and impact of such research. The database, which has about 2,000 education research including theses and working papers on 49 African countries, resulted from the collaboration between the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the UK-based University of Cambridge and the Education Sub-Saharan Africa , a charity with a mission to transform educational outcomes on the continent.”

Health Europa: Neurodegenerative disease research funding up by a third since 2011. “Global neurodegenerative disease research funding has seen a substantial improvement, with funding being up by a third since 2011, according to a new survey. As of today (17 July), funders and researchers are able to access a database that contains survey information from across three-decades worth of global neurodegenerative disease research funding.”


TechCrunch: Skype 8.0 launches on desktop with HD video, and soon encryption & call recording. “Skype’s redesign launched last year was met with mixed reviews, but the company is forging ahead by rolling out a number of its new features to other platforms, including the desktop. Microsoft today is launching Skype version 8.0 that will replace version 7.0 (aka Skype classic), the latter which will no longer function after September 1, 2018. The new release introduces a variety of features, including HD video and screen-sharing in calls, support for @mentions in chats, a chat media gallery, file and media sharing up to 300 MB, and more.”


Motherboard: How to Protect Yourself From SIM Swapping Hacks. “Criminal hackers have been targeting Instagram users with short or unique usernames, as well as people who own Bitcoin. To steal the victim’s accounts or cryptocurrencies, the hackers first seize the cell phone numbers of targets, which gives them the ability to reset passwords on any account linked to a given number. This kind of hack is what’s called a port out scam—an expression derived from the concept of porting a number from one carrier to another—and is also known as SIM swapping or hijacking.”


Recode: How social media bots could tank your stock price. “As the head of media intelligence firm Zignal Labs, former political strategist Josh Ginsberg has spent most of the past seven years helping clients understand what people were saying about them in their businesses in traditional media outlets and on social media. But then something weird happened. Earlier this year, Zignal’s data scientists started noticing ‘anomalies in our data’ that didn’t make sense, Ginsberg said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher: People with murky identities whose posts got the engagement of mainstream influencers, and sudden spikes in activity around certain topics.”

NBC: Apple, Google cashed in on Pizzagate-offshoot conspiracy app. “An app promoting a conspiracy theory featuring Hillary Clinton and a child sex ring lingered at the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store for months, with both tech giants receiving a cut of the revenue in the process.”

The Guardian: Facebook protects far-right activists even after rule breaches. “Leading far-right activists have received special protection from Facebook, preventing their pages from being deleted even after a pattern of behaviour that would typically result in moderator action being taken. The process, called ‘shielded review’, was uncovered by Channel 4 Dispatches, after the documentary series sent an undercover reporter to work as a content moderator in a Dublin-based Facebook contractor, Cpl.”

Poynter: Meet the next misinformation format: Fake audio messages. “Over the past year, fake audio messages have been slowly making the rounds on WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging platform with more than 1 billion users in more than 180 countries. Gisela Pérez de Acha first noticed them in the aftermath of an earthquake in Mexico City in September, when she helped run the collaborative verification project Verificado 19S.”


BetaNews: Microsoft overtakes Facebook as the #1 spoofed brand. “Phisherfolk love to try to trick people into thinking they are a major brand in order to get them to reveal passwords or personal data. New research from Vade Secure reveals that in the second quarter of this year Microsoft has supplanted Facebook as the most spoofed brand. The social network drops two places to third, behind perennial phishing favorite PayPal.”


The Atlantic: Why Instagram Questions Became So Annoying. “In the week since it launched, people have seen their Stories feeds dominated by questions. For the celebrities you might follow, it can be interesting. Some, like Andy Cohen or Busy Philipps, take time to host mini-AMAs while they’re bored or when they want to engage directly with fans. But for many users, the feature has overrun their Stories feed with boring content and pointless answers.” There’s a really good suggestion in here for how to use the Questions feature.

EurekAlert: Decade of research shows little improvement in websites’ password guidance . “Leading internet brands including Amazon and Wikipedia are failing to support users with advice on how to securely protect their data, a study shows. More than a decade after first examining the issue, research by the University of Plymouth has shown most of the top 10 English-speaking websites offer little or no advice guidance on creating passwords that are less likely to be hacked.”

New York Times: The Biggest Spender of Political Ads on Facebook? President Trump. “It’s official: President Trump is the single biggest political advertiser on Facebook. Mr. Trump and his political action committee spent $274,000 on ads on the social network since early May, outpacing the second-biggest spender, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood spent just over $188,000 on Facebook ads over the same period.”


Tasting Table: This Live Instagram Map Proves We Eat More Cake for Breakfast than You’d Think. “You no longer have to scroll through an endless feed of food posts on Instagram to find the latest dish to try, because there’s a new website that’s taking the sensory overload off your plate. Bites of the Big Apple, a project from consumer insight company Crimson Hexagon, took the most popular food-related hashtags in New York during a one-week period in May and plotted them on a map that constantly changes to reflect the time of day.” I looked at this and the map reflects the pictures taken that week, as far as I can tell. It’s not really a “live” map, but it’s well-designed and worth a look. Good morning, Internet…

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