afternoonbuzz

Twitter, 2020 Census, GreatFire AppMaker, More: Wednesday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 5, 2020

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Washington Post: Twitter permanently bans former KKK leader David Duke. “Avowed white supremacist David Duke was permanently banned from Twitter for repeated violations of the social media platform’s rules on hate speech. The former Ku Klux Klan leader and one-time Louisiana legislator’s most recent tweets included a link to an interview he conducted with Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. Other posts promised to expose the ‘systemic racism lie,’ as well as the ‘incitement of violence against white people’ by Jewish-owned media. He also shared misinformation about the danger and spread of the coronavirus.”

CNN: Census Bureau to halt counting operation a month earlier than expected. “It’s a sign that the Trump administration has abandoned its plan to extend the window for counting the nation’s population, which it earlier said needed to be longer because of the coronavirus pandemic. To be counted, households must complete the survey by September 30, rather than October 31, as the Census Bureau had announced when it adjusted plans due to the virus. The bureau will also end its labor-intensive efforts to knock on the doors of households that have not filled out the survey online, by paper form, or by phone.”

USEFUL STUFF

Must admit I’m a little surprised to see this from the South China Morning Post, but from the South China Morning Post: A new anticensorship tool from GreatFire turns any website into an unblocked app in China. “There are plenty of anticensorship tools designed to help people hop China’s Great Firewall. But a new one called the GreatFire AppMaker is designed specifically for content creators. The creators of the tool say it enables any blocked media outlet, blogger, human rights group or civil society organisation to get their content onto the phones of Chinese users. The tool doesn’t just work for China, either. GreatFire, a group of activists who monitor censorship in China, says it also works in other countries where the content is blocked.”

MakeUseOf: 6 Free and Fantastic Alternatives to the Official Reddit Website & App. “Are you still using the plain old Reddit through the official website and official apps? Check out some of these best Reddit websites and apps to see what you’re missing. There’s nothing too wrong with the official Reddit apps, but they’re severely limited in features. Given the online forum’s open nature, it makes no sense to use these when there are much better apps made by third-party developers. Try them out, and you’ll never go back to the plain old website.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Atlantic: Facebook’s Looted-Artifact Problem. “Facebook reflects and occasionally amplifies the biggest issues in the world—white supremacy, disinformation, harassment, political polarization, illicit trade—but it has long taken a hands-off approach to regulation on its platform. As a result, people such as [Adnan] Al Mohamad have found themselves forced into the role of amateur detective, lobbyist, police officer, taking it upon themselves to fight not only with the bad actors themselves, but with the social network that gives them space.”

BBC: TikTok: US general manager Pappas says app ‘here for the long run’. “The US general manager of TikTok has said the Chinese-owned video-sharing app is ‘here for the long run’, after President Donald Trump said he would ban it in the US. Vanessa Pappas told TikTok users in a video statement that its staff were building ‘the safest app’.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

CyberScoop: A right-wing social network reported a potential breach. Then it went dark. What happened at AllSocial?. “AllSocial was an emerging social media network that garnered more than a million users, in part by alluding to the unfounded claim that existing sites like Facebook and Twitter censor conservative political thought. AllSocial users could connect with new friends with the understanding the site would never limit how far a user’s posts would spread based on their politics, an apparent reference to allegations that Republicans repeatedly have made against Facebook and Twitter…. The site and its two mobile apps have been down for more than a month, though, after the revelation that an outsider had claimed to access AllSocial’s proprietary source code.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

EurekAlert: Smartphones prove to be time-saving analytical tools. “Seemingly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket, and we find new uses for them every day. They can help us avoid traffic jams or connect us to family from afar. They can even translate languages on the fly. Now, scientists have figured out a new trick. Using a regular smartphone camera and some 3D-printed tools, they’ve developed an easier way to measure soil density.”

CNET: Australia has invented Shazam for spiders. “Critterpedia is a collaboration between creators Nic and Murray Scare and Australia’s National Science Agency, CSIRO. It’s a machine learning engine designed to automatically identify different species of spiders and snakes. An AI-powered algorithm like Critterpedia requires hundreds of thousands of images to become accurate in its assessments, so CSIRO and Data 61 are hoping to get as many people as possible to download Critterpedia and upload pictures of spiders and snakes they might see in the wild.”

OTHER THINGS I THINK ARE COOL

Mashable: 13 of our favorite deepfakes that’ll seriously mess with your brain. “In a rudimentary sense, deepfakes can be a face-swap of sorts, but really it’s more complex. It makes something that wasn’t — swapping in a person for another, changing what they say, shapeshifting reality. That’s why it can be scary. Imagine the damage that could be done making someone say something they did not. But again… they can also be kind of fun. That in mind, we’ve collected some of our favorite amateur deepfake videos but, you know, not the kind that threaten democracy.” Good evening, Internet…

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