Political Advertising, Star Trek Books, Google, More: Friday Buzz, August 17, 2018


Gizmodo: Google Releases Political Ad Database and Trump Is the Big Winner. “Google has finally opened up about political ad-spending on its platforms and published a living archive of who’s paying what for your eyeballs while you’re just trying to consume some content. As we head into the heart of the midterm elections, Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign is outspending everyone.”

Via Reddit, I learned about a new database of Star Trek books. From the About page: “The purpose of this website is to provide a searchable database of Star Trek novels to make it easier for fans of written Star Trek fiction to find books to read. This unofficial database allows you to find books by keyword, author, series, captain, starship, TV show and year. I have attempted to sort all books in chronological order using the various sources listed below, but there were some contradictions and inconsistencies.”


Google Blog: Helping you find useful information fast on Search. “Imagine you’re remodeling your kitchen, and you want information about how quartz compares to granite for your new countertops. Sure, Google can tell you what quartz and granite are, but that’s perhaps not what you had in mind. Chances are you’re hoping to learn more about the differences in cost, benefits, and durability of each, and may be looking for guidance on other subtopics to explore. For these types of queries, we’re introducing a new way to get you to relevant information fast and help you get a glimpse of multiple aspects of a topic with a single search.”

DPLA: Save your Favorite DPLA Items with New List Feature . “We are pleased to announce a new website feature that allows users to create lists of items from across the Digital Public Library of America’s collections. With this new tool, users can easily save great materials discovered on DPLA’s website to come back to again and again without having to repeat a search.”

New York Times: Google Employees Protest Secret Work on Censored Search Engine for China. “Hundreds of Google employees, upset at the company’s decision to secretly build a censored version of its search engine for China, have signed a letter demanding more transparency to understand the ethical consequences of their work.”


Business Wire: Connector Presents a Clever New Tool Promising to Stop You from Sending Angry Emails (PRESS RELEASE). “Connector, an Open Innovation Studio, created Angry Inbox, a simple service which aims to stop people from sending impulsive angry emails they might regret later.”

MakeUseOf: The 11 Best Sites for Finding What Books to Read Next. “There is nothing more daunting than going to a bookstore without a shopping list. So, make sure that your next read is going to be a good one. There are plenty of sites you can use to look up books based on your personal taste, favorite authors and titles, or even based on a specific plot summary or character.”

Neowin: Mozilla Fellows develop extension to let you learn about and thwart targeted ads. “Most people realise things on the internet are not free and either need to be maintained by a subscription or through advertising. In the case of ads, firms like Google and Facebook aggressively track users in order to show better ads, but the amount of data they hold is a bit troubling. Several Mozilla Fellows decided to create a new add-on for Chrome and Firefox called which aims to tell you why certain ads are shown to you, and gives you the power to thwart these ads.”


BuzzFeed: Meet The People Who Spend Their Free Time Removing Fake Accounts From Facebook. “Kathy Kostrub-Waters and Bryan Denny estimate they’ve spent more than 5,000 hours over the past two years monitoring Facebook to track down and report scammers who steal photos from members of the US military, create fake accounts using their identities, and swindle unsuspecting people out of money. During that time they reported roughly 2,000 fake military accounts, submitted three quarterly reports summarizing their findings to Facebook, and even met with Federal Trade Commission, Pentagon, and Facebook employees to talk about their work.”

CNET: Mike Pence parody site tops Google search results for his name. “If you type Mike Pence’s name into Google, you may get the impression that the US vice president is running for president. (If you actually click on one of the first links that pops up though, a website called Mike Pence Is President, you’ll realize it’s just a big joke.)”

TechCrunch: Facebook cracks down on opioid dealers after years of neglect . “Facebook’s role in the opioid crisis could become another scandal following yesterday’s release of harrowing new statistics from the Center for Disease Control. It estimated there were nearly 30,000 synthetic opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017, up from roughly 20,000 the year before. When recreational drugs like Xanax and OxyContin are adulterated with the more powerful synthetic opioid Fentanyl, the misdosage can prove fatal. Xanax, OxyContin and other pain killers are often bought online, with dealers promoting themselves on social media including Facebook.”


Motherboard: Hundreds of Researchers From Harvard, Yale and Stanford Were Published in Fake Academic Journals. “In the so-called ‘post-truth era,’ science seems like one of the last bastions of objective knowledge, but what if science itself were to succumb to fake news? Over the past year, German journalist Svea Eckert and a small team of journalists went undercover to investigate a massive underground network of fake science journals and conferences.”

Route Fifty: Thousands of Miles of Internet Cables Could Be Underwater by 2033. “Thousands of miles of fiber optic cables in coastal communities may be underwater within 15 years due to rising sea levels, threatening internet access for millions of people, according to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Oregon.” Good morning, Internet…

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