Nixon Deepfakes, YouTube Recommendations, Instagram, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, July 22, 2020


MIT News: Tackling the misinformation epidemic with “In Event of Moon Disaster”. “This provocative website showcases a ‘complete’ deepfake (manipulated audio and video) of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon delivering the real contingency speech written in 1969 for a scenario in which the Apollo 11 crew were unable to return from the moon. The team worked with a voice actor and a company called Respeecher to produce the synthetic speech using deep learning techniques. They also worked with the company Canny AI to use video dialogue replacement techniques to study and replicate the movement of Nixon’s mouth and lips. Through these sophisticated AI and machine learning technologies, the seven-minute film shows how thoroughly convincing deepfakes can be.”

Mashable: This website lets you see how conspiracy theorists fall down the YouTube rabbit hole. “Ever wonder how your dear Aunt Karen got radicalized into believing the bizarre conspiracy theories she shares on social media? What about your apolitical college buddy who suddenly can’t seem to stop complaining about social justice and ‘cancel culture’? Well, there’s a good chance they fell down the YouTube rabbit hole. And a new website, TheirTube, wants to show you how that happened.”


CNET: Facebook’s Instagram rolls out new tool for personal fundraising. “Instagram, a photo sharing app owned by Facebook, said Tuesday that it’s releasing a new way for users to fundraise for personal causes. The social network said users in the US, UK and Ireland will be able to create personal fundraisers through Instagram as part of an initial test.”

The Register: Ex-boss of ICANN shifts from ‘advisor’ to co-CEO of private equity biz that tried to buy .org for $1bn+. “The former head of DNS regulator ICANN has been named as co-CEO of a company that launched a controversial attempt to purchase the .org internet registry earlier this year. The news has again raised concerns about the revolving doors between regulators and those who need regulation.”


MakeUseOf: 5 Journal Apps and Printables to Build a Habit of Daily Journaling. “Maintaining a daily journal is one of the best habits for mental well-being and reflection. But it’s a hard habit to build, so these apps and websites are tweaking the experience to make it easier to write a journal every day.”

Search Engine Journal: 21 Web Directories That Still Have Value. “In the early days of SEO, web directories were the thing. Back then, the Google algorithm was a lot easier to game. If your site was listed on a ton of online directories, it must be pretty dang special – or at least, that’s how the algorithm saw it. The number of directory links you had positively influenced how well your site ranked in the search engines. Online marketers caught on, and schemed to litter the web with directory listings of their website. It was a simpler time.” But thanks to pop-ups, just as annoying.


Hypebeast: Artists Rights Society and Plywood Project to Create Massive Database of Protest Art. “The Artists Rights Society (ARS) is teaming up with Plywood Project to launch an open-source database of all protest and street art from demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in May. ‘This database—built in consultation with ARS—will be open-source and collaborative: anyone will be able to add to it and help in its attribution,’ as per a statement.”

Mashable: Haunted TikTok is the next evolution of internet horror. “Despite being an app best known for attractive teens going viral with trendy challenges, a sinister niche has been quietly growing since 2018. Haunted TikTok (aka #HorrorTikTok, #CursedTikTok, #GhostTikTok, #CreepyTikTok, #ScaryTikTok) now pulls in anywhere from one to 11 billion views. That doesn’t even count the stuff without tags, either.”

Neowin: Pakistan issues final warning to TikTok over ‘immoral’ content, bans Bigo Live. “Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) issued a ‘final warning’ to TikTok on Monday over ‘immoral, obscene, and vulgar content’ posted on the short-form video app, in addition to blocking Bigo Live, a live-streaming app, for the same reason.”


Reclaim the Net: UK parliamentary committee on Russian disinformation calls for new social media content removal protocols. “A UK parliamentary intelligence committee report on Russian ‘disinformation and influence’ has called for the UK Government to establish a protocol with social media companies to remove covert hostile state material and to commit to “clear timescales” for removal.”

Gizmodo: DHS Is Spying on Social Media to Track Threats to Statues. “While the DHS memo states that intelligence collection can only occur with ‘reasonable suspicion’ and not for the ‘sole purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment,’ it is unclear what types of actions an analyst might define as reasonably suspicious. For instance, if someone post a video to Facebook of a stranger spray painting ‘f*ck 12’ on a federal building, are they now guilty by association—implicating their entire network in this single act of vandalism?” Asterisk mine, added in the hope of having a snowball’s chance of getting this newsletter through corporate email filters.


Enterprise .nxt: New tech promises faster Internet no matter where you live. “It’s always been important to have fast Internet at home. If you can get fiber optic, the gold standard of fast Internet, you’re good to go. But thanks to deployment costs, many areas still don’t have fiber-optic connections—and they may not any time soon. Fortunately, four new technologies—low-band 5G; Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite Internet; DOCSIS 3.1, and—will soon provide faster speeds than ever before.” Good morning, Internet…

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