Political Advertising, Myanmar Military, Google+, More: Tuesday Afternoon Buzz, October 16, 2018


PR Newswire: Google, Facebook, and Twitter Release Data on Political Ads (More or Less) (PRESS RELEASE). “Using cutting-edge machine learning and data scraping tools, computer scientists at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering today released the first database and analysis of political advertising based on more than 884,000 ads identified by Google, Twitter, and Facebook. The team launched their user-friendly Online Political Ads Transparency Project in July with data from Facebook, which was the first company to provide it. But the researchers were forced to switch techniques when Facebook blocked their data collection two weeks later. Today’s report is the first to include not only Facebook (including Instagram), but data newly shared by Twitter and Google.”


New York Times: Myanmar’s Military Said to Be Behind Facebook Campaign That Fueled Genocide. “They posed as fans of pop stars and national heroes as they flooded Facebook with their hatred. One said Islam was a global threat to Buddhism. Another shared a false story about the rape of a Buddhist woman by a Muslim man. The Facebook posts were not from everyday internet users. Instead, they were from Myanmar military personnel who turned the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing, according to former military officials, researchers and civilian officials in the country.”

TechCrunch: A former Google+ UI designer suggests inept management played a role in the network’s demise (beyond Facebook’s impact). “A lot of people leave their jobs because of bosses they can’t stand. Yet it’s seldom the case that a former employee publicly badmouths management after the fact. The obvious risk in doing so: future employers might not want to gamble on this person badmouthing them at a later date. That isn’t stopping Morgan Knutson, a UI designer who seven years ago, spent eight months at Google working on its recently shuttered social networking product Google+ and who, in light of the shutdown, decided to share on Twitter his personal experience with how ‘awful the project and exec team was.'”

Ars Technica: Winamp 6, due out in 2019, aims to whip more llama ass. “Rejoice, llama-whipping fans, a new version of Winamp is set to be released in 2019, according to a Monday report by TechCrunch. Alexandre Saboundjian, the CEO of Radionomy, said that the upgrade would bring a ‘complete listening experience.'”

The Verge: Snapchat’s Cat Lenses let you take even more ridiculous pictures of your pet. “If you’ve ever wanted to take a really goofy picture with your cat, Snapchat has rolled out a new update that will help you with that. The company has released a new feature called Cat Lenses, which lets you add filters to your favorite feline’s face.” Pretty sure my cat would punch me.


Genealogy’s Star: First Ever Virtual Online International Genealogy Conference. “Family History Expos’ Pirates of the Pedigree is the first virtual, online, international genealogy conference and it can be watched and enjoyed from home for free. If you have been to a local genealogy conference recently, you may have had a few vendor companies attending your event. The Family History Expos event has over 70 vendors from around the world including many genealogy societies and major online genealogy companies such as You can visit all these vendors and save your back and feet. You can chat directly with many of the vendors and connect with the rest through email.”


Columbia University: Fighting Fake News Before It Was Trendy: TC’s Institute for Propaganda Analysis. “Global tensions are simmering. Ethnic minorities are being persecuted. Propaganda and fake news stories are filling the headlines. How to sort fact from faction? It sounds familiar, but the year was 1937. At Teachers College, a new organization called the Institute for Propaganda – bankrolled by the department store magnate and philanthropist Edward Filene – has set up shop under Clyde Miller, a former reporter for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. As reported in The Columbia Journalism Review, for the next decade, IPA’s seven-member staff devoted its efforts to analyzing propaganda and misinformation in the news, publishing newsletters, and educating schoolchildren to be more tolerant of racial, religious, and ethnic differences.”


ZDNet: Pentagon discloses card breach. “Pentagon official said on Friday that the Department of Defense had suffered a security breach thanks to a third-party contractor. An investigation is still underway, so the exact details haven’t been made public, but according to an Associated Press report, a DOD official said that roughly 30,000 DOD military and civilian personnel are believed to be affected. This number is expected to grow as the Pentagon’s investigation continues.”


Washington Post: What we lose by reading 100,000 words every day. “Rereading a favorite book is a pleasure and skill, one of many that neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf fears we might be losing in this era of screen immersion. In ‘Reader, Come Home,’ she recounts an experiment she did on herself: She tried to reread Hermann Hesse’s ‘Magister Ludi,’ a novel she calls ‘one of the most influential books of my earlier years.'”

Engadget: Stephen Hawking’s last paper on black holes is now online. “Stephen Hawking never stopped trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding black holes — in fact, he was still working to solve one of them shortly before his death. Now, his last research paper on the subject is finally available online through pre-publication website ArXiV, thanks to his co-authors from Cambridge and Harvard. It’s entitled Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair, and it tackles the black hole paradox. According to Hawking’s co-author Malcolm Perry, the paradox “is perhaps the most puzzling problem in fundamental theoretical physics today” and was the center of the late physicist’s life for decades.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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