Rating Charities, Congressional Hearings, Facebook Viewpoints, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, November 27, 2019


Crain’s Chicago Business: A new way to rate charities—on impact. “Donors who want more specific info on how a nonprofit will spend their contribution now have a place to go… the website of a New York-based nonprofit that rates charities according to ‘the amount of good,’ or impact, of each donated dollar. The site, which launches today, includes ratings, on a scale from three to five stars, for 1,000 nonprofits in the country, including 27 in the Chicago area.”

GPO: GPO Completes Digitization of 1,300 Congressional Hearings. “The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958 and made them available on govinfo, GPO’s one-stop site to authentic, published Government information. Through these digitization efforts, the public can access records of Congressional Hearings for free. These include the transcripts from meetings or sessions of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress, in which elected officials obtained information and opinions on proposed legislation, conducted an investigation, or evaluated the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law.”


BetaNews: Facebook Viewpoints will pay you money to complete surveys, but you shouldn’t do it. “Today, Facebook launches a new program that is seemingly designed to take advantage of poorer people — it will pay them paltry amounts of money in exchange for their valuable data. Called ‘Facebook Viewpoints,’ users install an app for Android or iOS, sign up for the service, and answer personal questions. In exchange, the social network will deposit cash into their PayPal accounts. ”


How-To Geek: How to Make a Graph in Google Sheets. “A data-heavy spreadsheet can be difficult to read through and process. If you’re using Google Sheets, adding graphs to your spreadsheet can help you present this information differently for easier reading. Here’s how you can add graphs to your spreadsheet. Before we begin, you should be aware of a slight difference in terminology. Like Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets refers to all types of graphs as charts. You can use the Chart Editor tool to create these graphs and charts in Google Sheets.”


The Verge: WeChat keeps banning Chinese Americans for talking about Hong Kong. “Pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in Hong Kong yesterday, but many Chinese Americans have been unable to express their approval online. WeChat, a popular social media messaging app, has been censoring political messages and disabling people’s accounts if they voice their support for the movement — even if they’re in the United States.”

ZDNet: WhatsApp banned nearly half a million accounts during Brazilian elections. “Messaging app WhatsApp reported banning more than 400,000 accounts that breached its terms of service in Brazil during last year’s general elections. The information was disclosed by the company in a document submitted to authorities to support an investigation into the spread of misinformation during the presidential campaign.”

The Register: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: A quirky investigation into why AI does not always work. “Everyday AI has the approximate intelligence of an earthworm, according to Janelle Shane, a research scientist at the University of Colorado but better known as an AI blogger. Since AI is both complicated and massively hyped, and therefore widely misunderstood, her new book is a useful corrective.”


Krebs on Security: 110 Nursing Homes Cut Off from Health Records in Ransomware Attack. “A ransomware outbreak has besieged a Wisconsin based IT company that provides cloud data hosting, security and access management to more than 100 nursing homes across the United States. The ongoing attack is preventing these care centers from accessing crucial patient medical records, and the IT company’s owner says she fears this incident could soon lead not only to the closure of her business, but also to the untimely demise of some patients.”

TechCrunch: Vistaprint left a customer service database unprotected, exposing calls, chats and emails . “A security researcher has found an exposed database on the internet belonging to online printing giant Vistaprint. Security researcher Oliver Hough discovered the unencrypted database last week. There was no password on the database, allowing anyone to access the data inside. The database was first detected by exposed device and database search engine Shodan on November 5, but it may have been exposed for longer.”

The New York Times: Imagine Being on Trial. With Exonerating Evidence Trapped on Your Phone.. “In America, citizens accused of crimes are supposed to have an advantage. The burden of proof is on prosecutors, and the government must turn over all its evidence to defendants, who have no reciprocal obligation. In practice, of course — and especially when defendants don’t have a lot of money — the government has the edge. Investigators can issue subpoenas, compel testimony and pressure defendants into pleas. Today, one way in which the deck is stacked against defendants involves technology.”


PennState News: Grant will support expanded use of artificial intelligence for crop health. “A research team developing artificial-intelligence-based solutions for diagnosing and managing threats to crop health has received a grant to expand the technology to assist more smallholder farmers around the world.”

Slate: We Need to Fix Online Advertising. All of It.. “There is so much more “political” advertising than just what comes from official campaigns or speaks explicitly about legislative issues. Nearly anyone can afford to advertise, from deep-pocketed political action groups to grassroots activists to individuals. These ads need not name a candidate or party or legislative issue to have political impact. Anyone willing to pay to say ‘Black lives matter? Don’t all lives matter!?’ is engaged in political advertising. For just a few dollars, they can enjoy the immense reach of social media and their precision tools for microtargeting users by demographics, location, preferences, or political persuasion. Political advertising, not just on social media but across the internet, has become a searing problem for American democracy.” Good morning, Internet…

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