Missouri Finance, Facebook, PLOS Currents, More: Wednesday Afternoon Buzz, August 22, 2018


Ozarks First: Eric Schmitt Launches new Website to Access Information on Government Finances. “Prior to the launch of the new website, state financial data was often difficult to find and analyze. As a result, Missouri received a D+ grade for financial transparency from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in April of this year. Show-Me Checkbook draws data from the State of Missouri’s accounting system along with state agency reports. Treasurer [Eric] Schmitt is encouraging citizen watchdogs who find interesting or concerning data trends through Show-Me Checkbook to contact his office through the submission link that appears on the bottom of each page of the website.”


Washington Post: Facebook is rating the trustworthiness of its users on a scale from zero to 1. “Facebook has begun to assign its users a reputation score, predicting their trustworthiness on a scale from zero to 1. The previously unreported ratings system, which Facebook has developed over the past year, shows that the fight against the gaming of tech systems has evolved to include measuring the credibility of users to help identify malicious actors.”

CNET: Facebook axes 5,000 ad categories that excluded based on ethnicity, religion. “Facebook is looking to make its advertising platform less discriminatory. On Tuesday, the company said it had removed more than 5,000 ad-targeting categories in an effort to limit the ability of advertisers to exclude users based on ethnicity or religion.”

The Official PLOS Blog: PLOS Update. “In 2009, we launched PLOS Currents as an experimental platform for rapid communication of non-standard publications. A few communities embraced the experiment enthusiastically from the start, and the contributions of researchers who volunteered as editors and reviewers was fantastic. Over the years, we have seen important applications, for example, in small communities collaborating on rare diseases research in PLOS Currents Huntington Disease, and in rapid communication of preliminary results in the context of disease outbreaks in PLOS Currents Outbreaks. In particular, there was a surge of submissions during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the 2015-2016 Zika virus outbreak. However, in recent years the technology supporting this platform has aged rapidly, the user experience has been subpar, and submissions have substantially decreased.”

Search Engine Journal: DuckDuckGo Receives $10M Financing to Expand Global Impact. “DuckDuckGo is receiving a US$10-million investment through a partnership with OMERS to help the search engine continue expanding its privacy protection worldwide. OMERS, which stands for Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, is one of Canada’s largest pension funds.”


New York Times: Google Tried to Change China. China May End Up Changing Google.. “Activists for online freedoms worry that Google’s return would have dangerous real-world consequences, perhaps accelerating a great new wave of online restrictions in China and elsewhere. But the most lasting impact might be in how we would have to reimagine what kind of company Google was and what it stood for. It is hard not to see how going back to China would be anything other than a terrific comedown — the most telling act of a company that, day by day, has come to resemble the utterly conventional corporation it once vowed never to become.”


Ars Technica: Man sues over Google’s “Location History” fiasco, case could affect millions. “Last Friday, Google quietly edited its description of the practice on its own website—while continuing said practice—to clarify that ‘some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other services, like Search and Maps.’ As a result of the previously unknown practice, which was first exposed by the Associated Press last week, Google has now been sued by a man in San Diego. Simultaneously, activists in Washington, DC are urging the Federal Trade Commission to examine whether the company is in breach of its 2011 consent decree with the agency.”


ARN: Searching for Bing: How Microsoft’s search engine has lost its way. “In 2015, Microsoft’s Bing search engine achieved something it had never had before: relevancy. By notching a 20-per cent share of U.S. search, according to comScore, it managed to impact Google, the brand that was literally synonymous with search. In 2018, it seems like Bing’s willing to hand some of that success right back. Why? Because, as a habitual Bing user, I’ve noticed a deterioration in quality.”

TechCrunch: Study ties Facebook engagement to attacks on refugees. “A study of circumstances and demographics attendant on attacks against refugees and immigrants in Germany has shown that Facebook use appears to be deeply linked with the frequency of violent acts. Far from being mere trolling or isolated expressions of controversial political opinions, spikes in anti-refugee posts were predictive of violent crimes against those groups.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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