Flint Water Crisis, Cuba Disinformation, Windows 10, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, July 2, 2020


PR Newswire: OmniSci Powers New Website Enabling Public to View House-by-House Information On Flint Water Crisis (PRESS RELEASE). ” OmniSci, the pioneer in accelerated analytics, working in close partnership with water infrastructure analytics consulting company BlueConduit, today announced the debut of Flint Service Line Map (, a public website that maps up-to-date information about residential water service line replacements in the city of Flint, Michigan. These water service lines are the pipes that deliver each home their water. If the pipes are made of lead, they can contaminate that home’s water with lead. The problem: Flint, like most other cities, did not know exactly which pipes were lead. Presented in house-by-house detail, the map allows residents to easily find out about their known or likely water service line material, along with repair dates and other useful information.”

El Nuevo Herald, and the article is in Spanish, but I’ll provide a machine translation of the salient paragraphs: Cuentas falsas y coordinación con Venezuela: cómo Cuba disemina propaganda en Twitter. “On his Twitter profile, user Kaleb Guevara reproduces a phrase attributed to Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara: ‘the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.’ The profile photo also reminds of the controversial Argentine figure, a young brunette with a beard, with a cigarette on his lips. But it does not belong to a person called “Kaleb Guevara” but to the Canadian model Nick Bateman. These are just two examples of more than a hundred of what appear to be false profiles that appear on … a new site that identifies Twitter accounts that spread propaganda and disinformation from Cuba.”


The Verge: Microsoft announces new Windows 10 Start menu design and updated Alt-Tab. “Microsoft is introducing a new Windows 10 Start menu design that will de-emphasize its Live Tiles. The software giant first hinted at the refreshed design earlier this year, and it’s arriving for Windows 10 testers today.”

Mashable: Facebook is shutting down Hobbi, the Pinterest competitor almost nobody used. “Facebook has quietly taken its Pinterest competitor Hobbi out behind the barn and shot it. Launched this February, iOS app Hobbi was promoted as a platform for collecting, organising, and sharing photos of projects you’re working on, ‘whether it’s cooking, baking, DIY, arts & crafts, fitness or home decor.’ So it was basically Pinterest for progress shots.”


New York Times: A Singing Xi Jinping Look-Alike Battles the Censors in China. “The long stares and startled whispers — Is that him? — begin as soon as Liu Keqing, an imposing Chinese baritone, enters any room in China. With a square face, closely cropped black hair and a portly figure, Mr. Liu bears a striking resemblance to Xi Jinping, China’s top leader. Mr. Liu, who has spent his career in opera houses, used to welcome the attention. But now, in China’s increasingly authoritarian system, his resemblance to Mr. Xi has drawn him into an Orwellian saga in which his name, his face and his very likeness are considered sensitive by the Chinese authorities.”

The Next Web: Multiple service providers are blocking DuckDuckGo in India. “Users on Reddit have noticed they’re unable to access the site on their Airtel and Reliance Jio mobile network connections. While Some users on Twitter have further suggested multiple internet service providers (ISP) have blocked the site.”


BetaNews: Facebook admits to yet another shocking example of leaking user data. “Facebook has sneakily used a blog post purportedly about ‘protecting people’s data’ to reveal that it has failed to do precisely that. In a post in its almost ironically titled Privacy Matters series, Facebook admits that it shared private user data with thousands of app developers when it should not have. Two years ago, Facebook implemented a privacy policy that stopped apps that had not been used for 90 days from sharing data with developers, but it turns out that data was in fact still shared.”

Daily Sabah: Turkey’s new social media regulations aim to provide safer platforms for all. “The details of the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) bill revealed by Hürriyet daily include the protection of personal data and obliges social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to have representatives in the country for removing unlawful content and to block off access to harmful content.”


Refinery29: The Worst Social Media App For Sleep Is TikTok. “I’m a great sleeper. Usually I browse reddit before bed, but even with all that blue light beaming into my eyes, and even when I’m knee-deep in the most infuriatingly hilarious AITA thread ever (pro tip: sort by controversial), my eyelids start to droop around midnight, my phone falling out of my hand somewhere east of my head. But when I started scrolling TikTok, that natural shutdown did not occur. Half a year later, it has still not occurred. I’m not a daily user, but when I do open the app at night, it keeps me up. Eyes plastered open, index finger rubbed raw from swiping. Even once I force myself to put the phone down, it takes me 20 minutes or so to calm down enough to drift off to sleep.”

The Register: MIT apologizes, permanently pulls offline huge dataset that taught AI systems to use racist, misogynistic slurs. “The training set, built by the university, has been used to teach machine-learning models to automatically identify and list the people and objects depicted in still images. For example, if you show one of these systems a photo of a park, it might tell you about the children, adults, pets, picnic spreads, grass, and trees present in the snap. Thanks to MIT’s cavalier approach when assembling its training set, though, these systems may also label women as whores or bitches, and Black and Asian people with derogatory language. The database also contained close-up pictures of female genitalia labeled with the C-word.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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