Where WWI Soldiers Lived, Google News, EPA Web Site, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, November 19, 2018


Eastern Daily Press: Find out if you live in a house that once belonged to a First World War soldier. “A new website has been launched enabling people to search their postcode and find out if they live in or near a house that once belonged to a soldier from the First World War.” I briefly checked out the site, and while there were listings all over the world, most of them were in the UK and Europe.


The Guardian: Google News may shut over EU plans to charge tax for links. “Google’s top news executive has refused to rule out shutting down Google News in EU countries, as the search engine faces a battle with Brussels over plans to charge a ‘link tax’ for using news stories.” This discussion has been happening since at least 2015. Somebody ask Spain how it went.

Mashable: Trump administration changes EPA website to be kinder to fracking. “At the beginning of the year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made changes to its website pages on fracking. A watchdog group known as the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative tracked those changes across the EPA’s site and just released a report documenting the group’s findings. The result of the changes has left an official U.S. government website looking more like an extension of the fossil fuel industry than a federal agency with a mission to protect the environment.”


Lifehacker: How Do I Recover Old (or Lost) Emails?. “I’m the kind of person who hates losing old copies of digital things—photographs, messages, emails, videos, etc. While I doubt I’ll ever take a walk down memory lane and reminisce over random emails I sent in 2007, I don’t like feeling as if I couldn’t do that if I wanted or needed to. In other words, I’m a digital pack rat. And it’s possible that this week’s Tech 911 letter-writer is as well. And you know what? I don’t fault them in the slightest. I get it, I do.”


TorrentFreak: Google Meets Russian Govt Body to Discuss Ongoing Piracy Issues. “Google has been officially invited to become a signatory to the anti-piracy memorandum signed in Moscow earlier this month. During a meeting with government telecoms body Roscomnadzor on Wednesday, Google’s recent violation of Russian law was also discussed. The search giant is facing a fine after it displayed links to permanently banned sites within its search results.”

Washington Post: ‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America. “The only light in the house came from the glow of three computer monitors, and Christopher Blair, 46, sat down at a keyboard and started to type. His wife had left for work and his children were on their way to school, but waiting online was his other community, an unreality where nothing was exactly as it seemed. He logged onto his website and began to invent his first news story of the day.” So why would someone do something like this? Read the whole article including this bit from the story: “In a good month, the advertising revenue from his website earned him as much as $15,000, and it had also won him a loyal army of online fans.”

The Next Web: Facebook’s former PR firm seeded fake stories about bias at Apple News. “Facebook‘s recently-fired PR firm allegedly floated a story to journalists that Apple News was biased against Republicans. The company, Definers Public Affairs, made headlines this week after a bombshell New York Times report revealed that it was employed by Facebook to dig up dirt on critics and competitors. One of these competitors, according to documents obtained by CNN, was Apple News.”


Wired UK: Why can’t Twitter stop Elon Musk bitcoin scams? It’s complicated. “Verified Twitter accounts – including Google’s G-Suite and Matalan – are getting hacked and pretending to be Elon Musk. The bitcoin scams are making thousands but why can’t Twitter do anything about them?”


New York Times: How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly. “The story of the wildly exaggerated promises and damaging unintended consequences of technology isn’t exactly a new one. The real marvel is that it constantly seems to surprise us. Why? Part of the reason is that we tend to forget that technology is only as good as the people who use it. We want it to elevate us; we tend to degrade it. In a better world, Twitter might have been a digital billboard of ideas and conversation ennobling the public square. We’ve turned it into the open cesspool of the American mind. Facebook was supposed to serve as a platform for enhanced human interaction, not a tool for the lonely to burrow more deeply into their own isolation.”

UX Collective: Are you sure? — how user interfaces undermine consent. “As more and more of our human interactions are mediated through software interfaces, our tools should model the good consent patterns that we would expect from decent humans. If the software is being coercive and creepy, we should ask why and change that pattern. Every non-consensual thing a software interface does was designed that way by a human; it can be designed not to do it.” Good evening, Internet…

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