Merriam-Webster, Facebook Messenger, PDF Editing, More: Tuesday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, December 18, 2018


Merriam-Webster: Merriam-Webster’s Words of the Year 2018. “Our Word of the Year for 2018 is justice. It was a top lookup throughout the year at, with the entry being consulted 74% more than in 2017.” This is a top-ten list, with annotation for each word.

The Verge: Facebook introduces Boomerang support and selfie mode for Messenger. “Facebook today announced a host of new camera features for its Messenger app. As well as native support for looping Boomerang videos, there’s also a Selfie mode that automatically blurs out the background, and an augmented reality feature that lets you place Messenger’s stickers in your photos and videos.”


Make Tech Easier: 7 Free PDF Editors You Can Use on Any PC. “PDFs are one of the most rigid, frustrating document formats in the history of PC software. Everything looks great on a PDF, but the lack of possibilities when it comes to actually editing them are maddening. Of course, that’s kind of the point of a PDF – electronic paper, essentially – but if you want to edit one, then you’ll need to find some dedicated software to do that job for you.”


New York Times: Russian Effort to Influence 2016 Election Targeted African-Americans (This is a different report than the one that was covered in The Washington Post.) “The Russian influence campaign on social media in the 2016 election made an extraordinary effort to target African-Americans, used an array of tactics to try to suppress turnout among Democratic voters and unleashed a blizzard of posts on Instagram that rivaled or exceeded its Facebook operations, according to a report produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Poynter: How do you make fact-checking viral? Make it look like misinformation.. “We decided to copy the ‘bad guys’ in order to fight back. We decided to debunk hoaxes in the same format of the hoaxes that had proven so effective at reaching citizens. We decided to try to make the facts as viral as the lies. And it worked. To date, the most critical time for disinformation in Spain were the days between the Catalonian consultation of Oct. 1, 2017, and the election that took place two months later — and it was then that we tested our proposition. We posted the results of our fact-checking directly on social media as images that could be easily downloaded and shared. Just like disinformation. We don’t depend financially on advertising so we don’t need our readers to come to our website.”

The Daily Beast: How YouTube Built a Radicalization Machine for the Far-Right. “For David Sherratt, like so many teenagers, far-right radicalization began with video game tutorials on YouTube. He was 15 years old and loosely liberal, mostly interested in ‘Call of Duty’ clips. Then YouTube’s recommendations led him elsewhere. ‘As I kept watching, I started seeing things like the online atheist community,’ Sherratt said, ‘which then became a gateway to the atheism community’s civil war over feminism.’ Due to a large subculture of YouTube atheists who opposed feminism, ‘I think I fell down that rabbit hole a lot quicker,’ he said.”


DW: France to tax tech giants from 2019 as EU fails to act. “France said at the start of December it would start taxing Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, the big US technology companies known as GAFA, if European Union finance ministers failed to agree on a bloc-wide digital tax next year. Ten days later Le Maire said due to difficulties in finalizing a new EU-wide levy, France would introduce its own tax on the large internet and technology companies from January 1.”


Science Blog: Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Medicine. “Washington University researchers are working to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems for health care, which have the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, helping to ensure that patients get the right treatment at the right time.”

Wired: Used Wisely, the Internet Can Actually Help Public Discourse. “They saw it coming, the media theorists, book-bound intellectuals, Jesuit priests, classicists, and sociologists who attempted to make sense of what they called ‘electronic media,’ and we now think of as prehistoric radio and TV. With their long-winded tomes from an age of longer attention spans, authors like Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis, Walter Ong, and others form a sort of prophetic canon that collectively catalogs our species’ first reaction to these newfangled contraptions, with their blinking lights and blaring speakers. Of course, they didn’t wholly foretell our present.”

Pew (PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW!): Gender and Jobs in Online Image Searches. “Online media organizations, social media sites and individuals add vast quantities of images to the web each day. These images can then appear in search engines as users look for pictures representing common phrases or topics. Because the way that men and women are represented in these online search results might be connected to the way people understand gender and society, some academic researchers have specifically focused on the ways women and men are depicted in the workplace in online images.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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