ElectionGuard, FTC, Facebook, More: Tuesday Evening ResearchBuzz, May 7, 2019


NPR: Ahead Of 2020, Microsoft Unveils Tool To Allow Voters To Track Their Ballots. “In an effort to improve confidence in elections, Microsoft announced Monday that it is releasing an open-source software development kit called ElectionGuard that will use encryption techniques to let voters know when their vote is counted. It will also allow election officials and third parties to verify election results to make sure there was no interference with the results.”

Washington Post: Political pressure builds for FTC to punish Facebook with more than a ‘bargain’ fine. “Two top Senate lawmakers on Monday expressed frustration with a federal probe into Facebook’s privacy practices, urging the government to move more swiftly and consider imposing tough punishments that target the company’s top executives.”

Refinery29: Starting Today, You Can Make Appointments On Facebook & Instagram. “In the U.S., more than 80 percent of Facebook users are connected to at least one small business, and more than 200 million people visit an Instagram business profile every day. So in honor of National Small Business Week, the platforms are adding crucial tools to help small businesses connect to consumers.”


The Guardian: How the news took over reality. “The afternoon of Friday 13 November 2015 was a chilly one in Manhattan, but that only made the atmosphere inside the Old Town Bar, one of the city’s oldest drinking haunts, even cosier than usual. ‘It’s unpretentious, very warm, a nurturing environment – I regard it with a lot of fondness,’ said Adam Greenfield, who was meeting a friend that day over beers and french fries in one of the bar’s wooden booths. ‘It’s the kind of place you lay down tracks of custom over time.’ Greenfield is an expert in urban design, and liable to get more philosophical than most people on subjects such as the appeal of cosy bars. But anyone who has visited the Old Town Bar, or any friendly pub in a busy city, knows what he and his friend were experiencing: restoration, replenishment, repair. ‘And then our phones started to vibrate.'”

France24: China’s social media troll ‘army’ wages war on Uighurs. “The Chinese troll army suddenly struck one evening, bombarding the Facebook pages of two pro-Uighur groups with an array of verbal grenades and offensive images. The social media onslaught was the handiwork of the self-styled Diba Central Army, a Chinese patriotic group that has targeted other pages in the past to defend Beijing.”


CNET: Border officials don’t have data to address racial bias in facial recognition tech. “Facial recognition technology is prone to errors, but when it comes to racial bias at airports, there’s a good chance it’s not learning from its mistakes. Debra Danisek, a privacy officer with the US Customs and Border Protection, talked to an audience Friday at the International Association of Privacy Professionals Summit about what data its facial recognition tech collects — but more importantly, about what data it doesn’t collect.”

The Verge: A hacker is demanding ransom for hundreds of stolen Git code repositories. “Late last week, a hacker stole data from hundreds of Git code repositories and is holding it all for ransom on their servers, threatening to release code to the public if affected owners don’t pay up. GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab users who reported that their code had disappeared found the following ransom note in its place…”

ZDNet: HMRC to delete five million biometric voice records. “The UK’s tax authority is to delete the biometric voice records of five million people because it did not have clear consent from its customers to have those files.”


Engadget: MIT finds smaller neural networks that are easier to train. “Despite all the advancements in artificial intelligence, most AI-based products still rely on ‘deep neural networks,’ which are often extremely large and prohibitively expensive to train. Researchers at MIT are hoping to change that. In a paper presented today, the researchers reveal that neural networks contain ‘subnetworks’ that are up to 10 times smaller and could be cheaper and faster to teach.”

Recorded Future: Who’s Afraid of the Dark? Hype Versus Reality on the Dark Web. “In this research, we investigated a few things about this network of onion sites: how big it really is, the languages in which it’s written, and how reliable it is to use in terms of uptime and trustworthiness. We spidered about 260,000 onion pages to approximate the full reachable Tor network from a starting set of onion sites that we pulled from public lists and our own content.” There’s one part of the article where I feel the researchers are responding to people who conflate the Deep Web and the Dark Web when they’re nowhere near the same thing, but other than that this was very interesting. Good evening, Internet…

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