YouTube, WordPress, Wolfram Alpha, More: Thursday Evening ResearchBuzz, November 14, 2019


The Verge: YouTube’s new kids’ content system has creators scrambling. “On Tuesday afternoon, YouTube formally announced its plan to have creators label any videos of theirs that may appeal to children. In January 2020, if creators mark a video is directed at kids, data collection will be blocked for all viewers, resulting in lower ad revenue and the loss of some of the platform’s most popular features, including comments and end screens. It’s a major change in how YouTube works, and has left some creators clueless as to whether they’re subject to the new rules.”

WordPress 5.3 — “Kirk” — is now available.. “5.3 expands and refines the block editor with more intuitive interactions and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increase design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style variations to allow designers more control over the look of a site.”


Lifehacker: Use Wolfram Alpha to Conceptualize Giant Numbers. “Our monkey brains didn’t evolve to understand big numbers without some help. So when you run into an abstract figure, it’s good to have some real-world thing to compare it to. That’s why I memorize a few stats about the U.S. population; that’s why we made a video comparing Jeff Bezos’s money to Beyoncé’s. When you need to visualize a certain number, large or small, search it on Wolfram Alpha, and you’ll get a comparison to some real-world objects.”


New York Times: Facebook’s New Role as News Publisher Brings New Scrutiny. “A little more than two weeks after Facebook announced a news initiative, the social network was on the defensive, responding to a published report that a website co-founded by the company’s top news executive had displayed bias against Elizabeth Warren.”

The Next Web: Why some accounts are getting banned for ‘suspicious’ group names on WhatsApp. “Yesterday, GizChina reported some WhatsApp users are getting banned for ‘suspicious’ group names. According to a Reddit thread, a user changed a university group name to something that was indicative of child sexual abuse.


ZDNet: Major ASP.NET hosting provider infected by ransomware. “SmarterASP.NET, an ASP.NET hosting provider with more than 440,000 customers, was hit yesterday by ransomware. The company is the third major web hosting firm this year that went down because hackers breached their network and encrypted data on customer servers.”

TorrentFreak: Sci-Hub & Libgen Blocked By Austrian ISPs Following Elsevier Complaint. “Austrian ISP T-Mobile has announced that following a supervisory procedure carried out by local telecoms regulator TKK, it has begun blocking two dozen Sci-Hub and Libgen related domains. The original complaint was filed against rival ISP A1 several months ago by publishing giant Elsevier. A1’s blocking is also well underway.”


TechCrunch: Facebook machine learning aims to modify faces, hands and… outfits. “The latest research out of Facebook sets machine learning models to tasks that, to us, seem rather ordinary — but for a computer are still monstrously difficult. These projects aim to anonymize faces, improvise hand movements and — perhaps hardest of all — give credible fashion advice.”

Harvard Business Review: When Algorithms Decide Whose Voices Will Be Heard. “Are we giving up our freedom of expression and action in the name of convenience? While we may have the perceived power to express ourselves digitally, our ability to be seen is increasingly governed by algorithms — with lines of codes and logic — programmed by fallible humans. Unfortunately, what dictates and controls the outcomes of such programs is more often than not a black box.”

VOA: Study: Social Media a Double-Edged Sword for Female Politicians. “A recently published study by a Washington think tank indicates that women in public office — or those seeking it, whether in the United States or abroad — are increasingly bypassing traditional media, relying instead on social media to bolster their image and broadcast their message in a more nuanced and unfiltered way.” Good evening, Internet…

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