Transportation Ballot Measures, Water Scarcity, North Carolina Trails, More: Saturday Buzz, November 3, 2018


Eno Center for Transportation: 2018 Transportation Ballot Measure Database Now Available. “With the 2018 elections quickly approaching, the Eno Center for Transportation released on Tuesday a database of transportation-related measures that will appear before voters this year. Eno also released a five-episode podcast series, ‘Transportation at the Ballot Box,’ featuring interviews with experts discussing details of several key measures.”

EurekAlert: Will there be enough water in the future?. “Water researchers at Aalto University wanted to better communicate research findings to a broader audience. The Water Scarcity Atlas, a web application created by Postdoctoral Researcher Joseph Guillaume and Assistant Professor Matti Kummu, uses interactive global maps to provide an introduction to the problems that arise with limited water – water scarcity – and ways to fight them.”

North Carolina Parks & Recreation: Hike on Over to the New N.C. Trails Website. “The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation announced today the launch of the N.C. Trails website. The website is a hub for the N.C. Trails Program and offers quick and easy access to information on state trails and trails in state parks as well as guidance for funding, creating and maintaining a trail.”


CNET: Senators demand Zuckerberg fix Facebook’s ad transparency tool. “In May, Facebook implemented new rules for political ads, requiring buyers to verify their identification and addresses, and that the ads would have to show who paid for them. The changes echoed what Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota had pushed for in the Honest Ads Act. But the senators are circling back on the issue following stories from multiple news outlets that reportedly show how easily the new tool could be abused.”

New York Times: Senior Google Lobbyist Is Stepping Down From Her Role. “Susan Molinari, who leads Google’s federal lobbying and policy effort and is a former Republican congresswoman from New York, is stepping down from her role at the company. The change, during a turbulent time for Google, is the latest indication of a shake-up at the company’s large Washington operation.” I’m covering this here because it’s important; Google spends tons of money on lobbying — more than $18 million in 2017! — which according to the Washington Post is more than any other company.


MakeUseOf: What Are Facebook Shadow Profiles? . “Facebook spends an awful amount of time defending its data practices. The social network’s hunger for users’ personal information has led to it adopting any means necessary for harvesting as much data as possible. This means that even if you never sign up to Facebook, the social network will have some information on you. And it’s all thanks to shadow profiles. But what are Facebook shadow profiles? And do you have one? Read on to find out…”

Digital Inspiration: The Most Awesome Online Teachers for Learning Web Development. “In my quest to become a better developer, I’ve come across several awesome ‘teachers’ who aren’t just excellent programmers but awesome educators and have the art of explaining complex and difficult concepts.”

Make Tech Easier: What You Need to Know About “Dark Patterns” and How They Trick Users. “If you’ve ever accidentally subscribed to an email list, installed some software you didn’t want, or been tricked into needlessly sharing personal data, you’ve already experienced a dark pattern, or a maliciously-designed user interface.”


CNN: Podcasts help extremists get their message out. “Podcasts were once relegated to niche corners of the web, but the format has become much more mainstream in recent years. An estimated 73 million people in the United States tune into a podcast every month, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital. Extremists, spouting racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and anti-immigrant beliefs, have followed the trend and are broadcasting their messages as established social media outlets crack down on similar content.”

Ars Technica: How did Iran find CIA spies? They Googled it. “A covert ‘transitional’ channel used for communicating with sources that Central Intelligence Agency handlers couldn’t reach directly was exposed and infiltrated by Iranian intelligence in 2009. The breakdown in operational security—which apparently relied heavily on security through obscurity—was the result of Iranian intelligence officials simply using Google to locate the websites used as the communications channel after a double-agent exposed the method used by the CIA, according to a report from Yahoo News’ Zach Dorfman and Jenna McLaughlin.”

The Week: The quest to design an ethical social media platform. “Social media use is pervasive in our culture. And it’s on the rise. At the start of this year, there were almost 3.2 billion people using social networks worldwide, up 13 percent from 2017. There are more than 11 new users every second. Meanwhile, we’re learning about the damage excessive social media use can do to our health and our society. As awareness of the pitfalls of being constantly connected grows, a small number of tech professionals are working to introduce ethical principles into social media design. But what does an ethical social media platform actually look like?”


BBC: Private messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts for sale. “Hackers appear to have compromised and published private messages from at least 81,000 Facebook users’ accounts. The perpetrators told the BBC Russian Service that they had details from a total of 120 million accounts, which they were attempting to sell, although there are reasons to be sceptical about that figure.” It appears that this might have been caused by sketchy browser extensions, but apparently Facebook has not named the extensions. Good morning, Internet…

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