Texas Government Transparency, Zoom, Raspberry Pi, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, June 18, 2020


Crossroads Today: Texas Comptroller’s Office Releases Updated Transparency Tool. “This powerful new visualization tool gives users a daily look into state government finance and allows them to download state financial data for further analysis. Tabular data, charts and graphs can help taxpayers, researchers and policymakers search and explore vast amounts of government information with new perspectives, and easily compare various state agencies’ expenditures.”


BetaNews: Zoom relents and agrees to give free users end-to-end encryption. “In a blog post [Zoom CEO Eric] Yuan says that the company has ‘identified a path forward that balances the legitimate right of all users to privacy and the safety of users on our platform’. He goes on to explain that this means end-to-end encryption will be offered to everyone as an add-on.”

Tom’s Hardware: Raspberry Pi OS Offers New Features, Breaks USB Booting. “The newly-christened Raspberry Pi OS has a few new features, which the Pi Foundation highlighted in a blog post… A new, preloaded Bookshelf app provides a huge library of works from the Raspberry Pi Press—including a complete collection of MagPi, HackSpace, and Wireframe magazine issues. You also get access to a number of free books.”


Social Media Examiner: How to Run Facebook Ads for Local Businesses: Driving Foot Traffic. “Does your local business need more walk-in customers? Want to know how to use Facebook ads to drive more foot traffic? In this article, you’ll discover how to run Facebook ads with the Store Traffic objective to generate more business for your local business.”


CNET: Private Facebook groups are using ‘Justice for George Floyd’ as a cloak for racist behavior . “On the surface, this group could be dismissed as a den of racists to troll others. And while it’s nearly impossible to know its true motives, experts believe using a major news event to entice members could represent something more insidious — it could be an effort to indoctrinate and radicalize people who have sympathetic views, but who wouldn’t necessarily seek out racist groups. And at least one expert who’s tracked these types of groups believe there are many more out there.”

New York Times: A Conspiracy Made in America May Have Been Spread by Russia. “The Americans who pushed a conspiracy theory the night of the Iowa caucuses have migrated to coronavirus conspiracies on Twitter, with help from a very Russia-friendly account.”


Sydney Morning Herald: 700 million men and boys: China builds mega DNA surveillance database. “Police have swept across the country since late 2017 to collect enough samples to build a vast DNA database, according to a new study published on Wednesday by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a research organisation, based on documents also reviewed by The New York Times. With this database, authorities would be able to track down a man’s male relatives using his blood, saliva or other genetic material.”

ZDNet: Super secretive Russian disinfo operation discovered dating back to 2014. “Codenamed Secondary Infektion, the group is different from the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Sankt Petersburg company (troll farm) that has interfered in the US 2016 presidential election. Graphika says this new and separate group has been operating since 2014 and has been relying on fake news articles, fake leaks, and forged documents to generate political scandals in countries across Europe and North America.”


Wired: Facebook Groups Are Destroying America. “A few months ago, during the 2020 Super Bowl, Facebook ran an ad lauding the power of groups to bring people together. The 60-second spot was called ‘Ready to Rock?’ But unless Facebook stops bad actors from taking advantage of the community that groups provide, perhaps we should be ready for an earthquake.”

Nunatsiaq News: Volunteers sought to help build online database of Arctic botany. “Do you have some time on your hands, a computer and internet connection, and a desire to help improve the world’s understanding of Arctic plants? If so, Jennifer Doubt wants to enlist you as a citizen scientist. Doubt, the Canadian Museum of Nature’s curator of botany, is seeking help to tackle a monumental task. The museum’s botanical collection, known as the National Herbarium, contains more than one million plant specimens, including the world’s best collection of samples from the Canadian Arctic.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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