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Decision Algorithms, EPA Agency Guidance, Google, More: Friday ResearchBuzz, March 6, 2020

NEW RESOURCES

Rutgers University: Rutgers Law Professor Authors Algorithm Database for Public Research. “Rutgers Law School Professor Ellen P. Goodman, the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy and Law (RIIPL), and MuckRock have launched a new, open database of automated decision systems and algorithms used in city, county, state, and other public entities across the United States. The database, which is open to the public, is the result of a yearlong reporting and research project conducted by RIIPL and MuckRock into more than 200 instances of algorithmic policy being instituted across America.”

EPA: EPA Meets President Trump’s Deadline, Makes Agency Guidance Available to the Public. “Today, in support of President Trump’s Executive Order to promote transparency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new guidance portal that provides public access to agency guidance documents. This new searchable database will make it easier for the regulated community to find and follow agency guidance.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Bloomberg: Google Pulls Down Political Ads as Candidates Keep Pushing Limits. “Google has rejected dozens of ads from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for violating its ad policies in the week leading up to Super Tuesday, as well as a Bernie Sanders ad and two from a political action committee supporting Joe Biden, according to data released by the company Tuesday.”

Search Engine Land: Several WordPress SEO plugins are on the fritz. “It’s been a challenging week for many SEO plugin users. Numerous users of the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin by ExactMetrics are claiming that they’ve lost traffic data after updating to version 6.0. Meanwhile, the Yoast SEO and Rank Math plugins are producing incorrect canonical URLs when those URLs contain Unicode characters.”

CNET: Facebook gives WHO free ads to cut down coronavirus misinformation. “Facebook is letting the World Health Organization advertise for free to try to combat misinformation on the coronavirus outbreak. The social network wants people to feel confident that information is ‘credible and accurate,’ CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post late Tuesday.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Popular Information: Facebook allows Trump campaign to run deceptive Census ads. “The Trump campaign is currently running more than 1,000 ads urging users to ‘take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today.’ The ads also include an image of the ‘2020 Census.’ Users that click on the ad are directed to a campaign website labeled as the ‘Certified Website of President Donald J. Trump.’ The upper right of the landing page says, ‘For Official Use Only.’ There is a clear and deliberate attempt to make this look like a government document.”

The Verge: WeChat has been censoring keywords about coronavirus, study finds. “China’s most popular messaging app, Tencent-owned WeChat, has been censoring keywords about coronavirus since as early as January 1st, an analysis found. Popular Chinese livestreaming platform YY has been censoring coronavirus content, too.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

New York Times: Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich . “Those with Clearview logins used facial recognition at parties, on dates and at business gatherings, giving demonstrations of its power for fun or using it to identify people whose names they didn’t know or couldn’t recall.”

New York Times: U.S. to Hold Tech Firms Accountable for Spread of Child Sex Abuse Imagery. “Legislation announced on Thursday aimed at curbing the spread of online child sexual abuse imagery would take the extraordinary step of removing legal protections for tech companies that fail to police the illegal content. A separate, international initiative that was also announced takes a softer approach, getting the industry to voluntarily embrace standards for combating the material.”

Reuters: Virgin Media reports database breach. “Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global (LBTYA.O), on Thursday reported a breach that allowed unauthorized access to the cable company’s database that contained personal information of about 900,000 customers. The company said the breach did not happen due to a hack but occurred as the database was incorrectly configured.” To me that is not a breach. It’s a leak.

RESEARCH & OPINION

Ubergizmo: Your Computer Can Help Scientists Find A Cure To The Coronavirus. “Back in the day, your computer used to be just your computer. However, with our computers becoming increasingly connected to the internet, your computer isn’t just yours anymore. In fact, if you’re not opposed to it, it seems that you can actually ‘donate’ some of your computer’s processing resources to scientists who are working on a cure to the coronavirus.” Weird lede considering that SETI@Home ran for 20+ years and just shut down, but hey.

MIT News: Historic migration patterns are written in Americans’ DNA. “Studies of DNA from ancient human fossils have helped scientists to trace human migration routes around the world thousands of years ago. But can modern DNA tell us anything about more recent movements, especially in an ancestrally diverse melting pot like the United States? To find out, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) analyzed data provided by more than 32,000 Americans as part of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project.” Good morning, Internet…

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