William Howard Taft, Google, WhatsApp, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 3, 2020

Well, we’re about to get run over by a hurricane again. I’m going to work until the power goes out and then it’s off to the basement. Hope y’all are safe and happy and healthy. Love you much.


HistoryHUB: New Online: Digital Edition of the William Howard Taft Papers. “The papers of William Howard Taft (1857-1930), twenty-seventh president of the United States and tenth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, consist of approximately 676,000 documents (785,977 images), which have been digitized from 658 reels of previously reproduced microfilm. Held in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division, these papers constitute the largest collection of original Taft documents in the world. The collection contains family papers, personal and official correspondence, presidential and judicial files, speeches and addresses, legal files and notebooks, business and estate papers, engagement calendars, guest lists, scrapbooks, clippings, printed matter, memorabilia, and photographs dating from 1784 to 1973, with the bulk of the material dated 1880-1930.”


Mashable: Google’s new Chrome extension tells you all about ads on websites you visit. “Ads are an inescapable part of our online lives. Even if you have an extreme case of banner blindness, like me, the ads are still there, tracking you, often in ways you wouldn’t approve if you had a say in it. To help alleviate this, Google has launched a new Chrome extension called Ads Transparency Spotlight. The extension, freely available in the Chrome web store, aims (per Google’s description) to ‘give people more visibility into the data used to personalize ads and more control over that data.'”

Neowin: WhatsApp launches new tool to help users spot fake news. “WhatsApp has launched a new tool called ‘Search the web’ that allows users that have been sent links to quickly find information about them from the web. In an example, WhatsApp showed a link someone had been sent that claimed that drinking boiled garlic water would cure COVID-19. The recipient can now press the magnifying glass button to search for information about the link.”


MakeUseOf: Torrent Defined: What’s a Torrent and How Do You Use It?. “You’ve probably downloaded something via a torrent at some point. Many internet users have. But do you know what a torrent is? Like, what is a torrent, other than a magic link to a file you want to download? Let’s look at what torrent files are and how you use them.”


Washington Post: Google rejects ad depicting police violence aimed at persuading black voters. “The move by Google, the Web’s largest ad platform, to filter out disturbing content central to a searing national debate over race and policing — a debate increasingly pivotal to the presidential campaign — speaks anew to the dilemmas faced by technology companies in regulating their platforms. Facebook has been pushed back on its heels by an intensifying ad boycott, organized by Color of Change and other civil rights groups that accuse the Silicon Valley giant of failing to erase hate speech and misinformation.”

GCN: The power and danger of social media for law enforcement. “Social media can help spread information rapidly to community members, which can be useful during public safety emergencies and natural disasters. It can also reduce the time it takes for first responders to get the important information they need, such as location coordinates to help a person in danger. If crucial information needs to be communicated quickly, a text message is often the channel of choice. According to the Pew Research Center, 98% of text messages are read within two minutes — a time savings that can literally mean the difference between life and death in an emergency.”


CNET: Democrats are warned that hackers are after their Facebook accounts, report says. “An alert from the committee’s security team, reported by CNN, said emails designed to look as if they’re from Facebook tell users that their pages have been deactivated because of a term violation. The email then directs those users to a fake Facebook website, where they’re told to provide personal information to appeal the deactivation.”

Business Insider: Twitter could be facing an FTC fine of up to $250 million over allegations that it violated an agreement over user data privacy. “Twitter disclosed in a regulatory filing Monday that it is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission related to allegations that it violated a 2011 consent agreement — and that it’s expecting a ‘probable loss’ of somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.”


The Conversation: Lawmakers keen to break up ‘big tech’ like Amazon and Google need to realize the world has changed a lot since Microsoft and Standard Oil. “The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google testified before Congress on July 29 to defend their market dominance from accusations they’re stifling rivals. Lawmakers and regulators are increasingly talking about antitrust action and possibly breaking the companies up into smaller pieces. I study the effects of digital technologies on lives and livelihoods across 90 countries. I believe advocates of breaking up big technology companies, as well as opponents, are both falling prey to some serious myths and misconceptions.”

ZDNet: Myth-busting AI won’t work . “People have myths because that is one kind of response to the unknown. If you take away their myths, you may leave them with nothing. That’s why a very well-intentioned, thoughtful effort of scholars over at the Mozilla dot org foundation to debunk nonsense about artificial intelligence is bound to fail.” Good evening, Internet…

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