Fugitive Slaves, AI-Generated Faces, Twitter, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, February 15, 2019


Cornell University: Freedom on the Move launches database of fugitives from American slavery. “Freedom on the Move (FOTM), an online project devoted to fugitives from slavery in North America, is enlisting the help of the public to create a database for tens of thousands of advertisements placed by enslavers who wanted to recapture self-liberating Africans and African-Americans…. The free, open-source site has been designed to be accessible to the public. Users can quickly set up an account and begin working with digitized versions of the advertisements. Users transcribe the text of an advertisement and then answer questions about the ad and the person it describes. They can choose to transcribe ads from a particular state or specific time period, depending on their areas of interest.” I’m sure you’ve heard of this project before – it looks like I mentioned it in RB back in 2016 – but now it has officially launched.

CNET: This website uses AI to generate startling fake human faces. “When you visit the website “This Person Does Not Exist” you will likely see a face smiling back at you. Seems innocent enough — until you realize the face is not actually real, but generated by a neural network algorithm. That person is not real. They don’t exist.” Based on my playing with this, AI has the most problems with ears, teeth, and hair.


TechCrunch: First look at Twitter’s Snapchatty new Camera feature . “Twitter has been secretly developing an enhanced camera feature that’s accessible with a swipe from the home screen and allows you to overlay captions on photos, videos, and Live broadcasts before sharing them to the timeline. Twitter is already used by people to post pictures and videos, but as it builds up its profile as a media company, and in the age of Snapchat and Instagram, it is working on the feature in hopes it will get people doing that even more.”


The Verge: This Chrome extension lets you learn a new language by watching Netflix. “Learning a new language through immersion doesn’t mean you have to pack your bags and move to Europe for three months. Now, you just need to turn on Netflix. Language Learning with Netflix is a Chrome extension that lets you watch shows with two subtitles on at the same time so you can visually pair translations with dialogue and learn some new vocabulary in the process. It’s a clever service that makes use of Netflix’s massive catalog and all of the major languages in which it already offers subtitles, including Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.”


New York Times: Facebook Group of French Journalists Harassed Women for Years. “The rumors had been out there for years: A private Facebook group that included many up-and-coming French male journalists was behind waves of online insult, mockery and harassment aimed at women in the business. Now, with confirmation that a group that called itself the Ligue du LOL existed, it is a moment of reckoning about sexism in the French news media, an insular and still male-dominated industry in a country where the #MeToo movement has met with some resistance.”

BloombergQuint: Lawmaker Questions Google and Facebook About Anti-Vaccine Information. “Democratic Representative Adam Schiff sent a letter to Google LLC Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, expressing concern that their platforms are carrying information discouraging parents from vaccinating their children.”

Tubefilter: Indian Lawmakers Considering TikTok Ban, Calling App “Inimical To Law And Order”. “TikTok, the short-form video app where 800 million monthly users share lip-syncing clips and proliferate user-generated challenges, is facing headwinds in India.The South Indian state of Tamil Nadu is weighing a TikTok ban, reports the Economic Times.”


Threatpost: Critical OkCupid Flaw Exposes Daters to App Takeovers. “A critical flaw in the OkCupid app has been found that could allow a bad actor to steal credentials, launch man-in-the-middle attacks or completely compromise the victim’s application. This is separate from the OKCupid account-takeover incident reported earlier in the week, but it does fit the theme of Valentine’s Day, when cybercriminals turn their sights to romance-seekers leading up to the holiday (see below for more on that).”


The Register: Why does that website take forever to load? Clues: Three syllables, starts with a J, rhymes with crock of sh…. “If the web seems slow, blame third-party advertising and analytics scripts. Many internet users have already come to that conclusion but Patrick Hulce, founder of Dallas, Texas-based Eris Ventures and a former Google engineer, has assembled data that clarifies the impact of third-party scripts in the hope it prompts more efficient coding.”

National Security Archive: Exploring the Russian Social Media Campaign in Charlottesville. “The existence of social media campaigns connected by U.S. intelligence to the Russian Government and aimed at destabilizing American politics continues to be the topic of much discussion and study, but case studies accessible to most social media users in America are difficult to produce given the scope of these operations. This posting seeks to provide such a case study as it relates to the IRA’s tactic of playing up both sides of a critical issue. While Russian support to the Trump campaign on social media and through the release of information obtained through cyberattack is well recognized, less well known is IRA amplification of political beliefs and voices specifically selected to increase polarization in American discourse.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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