Niagara Gazette: Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service goes online. “In 1987, Bob Sikorkski founded the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service. It’s designed to give people who are blind, have low vision or have other print disabilities, the ability to hear books as well as local publications. On July 31, they took, their service online for streaming and podcasting. Previously, listeners would have to get a special radio to be able to listen in.” I checked in on the stream. It is not location-restricted and is free to listen to.
Click on Detroit: New website helps identify woody invasive plants in Michigan. “A new website can help you identify potentially invasive plants in your backyard in Michigan. [The site], developed by the Woody Invasives of the Great Lakes Collaborative, contains a wealth of information about how to distinguish woody invasive species from similar beneficial plants, an interactive map showing how these species are regulated by Great Lakes jurisdictions, detailed management approaches and noninvasive woody plant ideas for gardeners and landscape designers.”
TWEAKS AND UPDATES
Digital Trends: Google’s new Chrome add-on gives you a rundown of all the ads on a webpage. “Nearly every website today hides underneath dozens of entities and trackers that monitor your activities in the background. Google wants to bring more transparency to the experience and it’s doing so with a new Chrome add-on appropriately called Ads Transparency Spotlight.”
CNET: Facebook announces internet nostalgia app E.gg. “A weird new Facebook app is launching, and it’s based on bringing back the internet of the ’90s. E.gg is the latest creation from Facebook’s experimental app team New Product Experimentation and is aimed at ‘recapturing that atmosphere’ of the early web.” Because of all the things we left behind, we really need to recapture blinking UNDER CONSTRUCTION gifs and “Punch the Monkey” banner ads.
AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
Slate: What Indians Lost When Their Government Banned TikTok. “Despite its myriad flaws, TikTok’s dominance of Indian social media was a nearly unalloyed good for many of the less well-off people who enjoyed it. In a highly stratified society, a video app with a notoriously addictive algorithm happened to cut across castes, faiths, and other gulfs, all so Indians could watch one another’s lip-syncs and skits. When the government pulled the plug—the app disappeared from the Apple and Google app stores, and users in the country can no longer access any videos—it deprived users of entertainment, a budding alternative media source, and in many cases income.”
Tech Transparency Project: Instagram’s Hashtag Blocking Favors Trump, Hurts Biden. “When a person searches Instagram for a hashtag and clicks on it, the platform has automatically generated “related hashtags” pointing users to other relevant content. TTP examined related hashtags for 20 popular terms associated with the Trump and Biden campaigns and found starkly different treatment of the two candidates. Instagram blocked the display of related hashtags on all 10 of the Trump hashtags reviewed, including #donaldtrump, #trump and #trump2020. That means users were not directed to other content, including anything negative or critical about the president. But for all 10 similar Biden hashtags, Instagram did display related hashtags, which at times steered users to insults and disinformation about the former vice president, with phrases like #creepyjoebiden, #joebidenpedophile and #joebidenisaracist.”
TNW: Mike Pompeo wants to build the US a ‘clean’ internet free of Chinese tech. “With the Clean Carrier policy, Pompeo wants to keep Chinese network companies out of the US networks. Clean Store and Clean Apps initiative signal towards booting out untrustworthy and potentially dangerous apps from phones of folks in the US. Clean Cloud is aimed towards keeping the cloud data out of reach from the Chinese companies. And finally, Clean Cable policy is to ensure that China is not spying on the country by sabotaging undersea cables.”
SECURITY & LEGAL
BetaNews: Windows 10 has a dangerous print spooler bug, and there is no fix. “An unpatched vulnerability in the Windows Print Spooler exists that could be exploited by an attacker to run malicious software with elevated system privileges. The issue affects Windows 7, Windows 8.x, Windows 10 as well as versions of Windows Server. It is being tracked as CVE-2020-1048 and CVE-2020-1337 and has a severity rating of ‘Important’.”
Mashable: Google smart speakers secretly updated to listen for more than wake words. “The company admitted Monday, following a report by Protocol, that it had updated an unspecified number of Google Assistant-enabled devices to respond to auditory cues beyond the user-specified wake phrase. Google told Protocol this was a mistake that was quickly fixed, but did not appear to address the larger privacy concerns that such a mistake signifies. After all, how are users supposed to trust a live microphone in their home if someone can remotely update it to be even more invasive without their knowledge?”
RESEARCH & OPINION
TechRepublic: AI-powered tool aims to help reduce bias and racially charged language on websites. “Website accessibility tech provider UserWay has released an AI-powered tool designed to help organizations ensure their websites are free from discriminatory, biased, and racially charged language. The tool, Content Moderator, flags content for review, and nothing is deleted or removed without approval from site administrators, according to UserWay.”
Illinois News Bureau: Journalists’ Twitter use shows them talking within smaller bubbles . “Journalists in Washington, D.C., have long been accused of living in a ‘Beltway bubble,’ isolated from the broader public, talking too much to each other. Their interactions on Twitter, however, show them congregating in even smaller ‘microbubbles,’ says a recent study. The journalists within each communicate more among themselves than with journalists outside the group.”
The Verge: A college student used GPT-3 to write fake blog posts and ended up at the top of Hacker News. “College student Liam Porr used the language-generating AI tool GPT-3 to produce a fake blog post that recently landed in the No. 1 spot on Hacker News, MIT Technology Review reported. Porr was trying to demonstrate that the content produced by GPT-3 could fool people into believing it was written by a human. And, he told MIT Technology Review, ‘it was super easy, actually, which was the scary part.'” Good afternoon, Internet…
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