TikTok, Firefox Send, Google, More: Sunday ResearchBuzz, September 20, 2020

CNN: Trump says he has approved a deal for purchase of TikTok. “President Donald Trump said Saturday he has approved a deal between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and Oracle (ORCL), temporarily averting a ban on TikTok in US app stores. The Commerce Department confirmed in a statement Saturday evening that it would delay — by one week — restrictions that were originally to take effect on Sunday.”


CNET: Mozilla shuts down Firefox Send file transfer service after malware abuse. “Mozilla permanently shut down its Firefox Send service for transferring files after people used it to launch online attacks, the nonprofit announced Thursday.”

Google Blog: Easier access to Search, Chrome and Gmail in iOS 14. “iOS 14 has launched, and with it comes new features that make it easier to access some of the Google apps you use most often. Starting today, you can add a Google Search Widget to your Home Screen to let you find information even faster. You can also set Chrome as your default browser app on your iPhone or iPad, and in the coming days, you’ll be able to set Gmail as your default email app.”


Kim Komando: How to delete yourself from people search sites. “People search sites build profiles based on public info scraped from across the internet. These profiles often contain sensitive data like phone numbers and addresses — and scam callers and mail spammers rely on these websites to scout prospects. You might be thinking, ‘Is this legal?’ Data brokers get away with it by giving people a chance to opt-out. Unfortunately, this is usually easier said than done. Prepare to jump through some hoops.”


BBC: Google and Facebook under pressure to ban children’s ads. “Tech firms have been urged to stop advertising to under-18s in an open letter signed by MPs, academics and children’s-rights advocates. Behavioural advertising not only undermines privacy but puts ‘susceptible’ youngsters under unfair marketing pressure, the letter says. It is addressed to Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft.”

VentureBeat: Will Facebook Horizon be the first step toward the metaverse?. “The excitement around a metaverse is growing, as it’s not just an idea from science fiction anymore. Facebook Horizon, a user-generated virtual reality world that is still in closed beta testing, might be one of the first steps toward creating one. The metaverse is the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Facebook is building its Horizon world in virtual reality, where people can immerse themselves in a virtual space with other friends and create their own social spaces akin to game worlds.”

BuzzFeed News: Friends And Family Members Of QAnon Believers Are Going Through A “Surreal Goddamn Nightmare”. “At its core, the QAnon collective delusion is a belief system that began in the innards of the social web before being vomited into the mainstream. Believers sign up for a slew of untruths. Most support Trump, oppose the ‘deep state,’ deny vaccination science, say many instances of gun violence were faked, and set off on quixotic crusades for supposedly trafficked children that hinder the real fight against the issue. Much of their wrath is centered on purported elites who either faked the coronavirus pandemic or spread the virus through 5G technology, a scientific impossibility. Satanism and drinking the blood of children are common points of discussion. Paranoia surrounding Black Lives Matter protests and anti-fascist activists is widespread.”


EurekAlert: The Phish scale: NIST’s new tool helps IT staff see why users click on fraudulent emails. “Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new tool called the Phish Scale that could help organizations better train their employees to avoid a particularly dangerous form of cyberattack known as phishing. By 2021, global cybercrime damages will cost $6 trillion annually, up from $3 trillion in 2015, according to estimates from the 2020 Official Annual Cybercrime Report by Cybersecurity Ventures.”

Sixth Tone: China to Build National Sex Offender Database for Use by Schools . “In a landmark national policy aimed at protecting children, China has moved to bar people with histories of sex abuse from working in early childhood, primary, or secondary education. According to a new guideline issued Friday by three central government agencies — the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Public Security — the latter will build a database of sex offenders, including those who rape or molest children.”


The Elm (Washington College): Facebook’s removal of political ads prior to the 2020 election is too little too late. “In October of 2019, multiple Facebook employees sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg detailing concerns about political ads. Since then numerous employees have expressed their concern about Facebook becoming an unreliable app. They recognized the mistakes made in 2016 and decided that the company needed to change its fact-checking policies. Although Facebook took some of the recommendations from the letter seriously, it’s too little, too late.”

University of Washington: Watching over whales: Online tool detects whales and ships in California’s Santa Barbara Channel in near real-time. “Whale Safe combines several technologies: an underwater acoustic system that automatically detects whale calls; near real-time forecasts of whale feeding grounds; and whale sightings by scientists reported through a mobile app. These sources of information are combined into a daily ‘Whale Presence Rating’ on the Whale Safe website — an indicator that describes the likelihood of whales from ‘low’ to ‘very high.'”


The Getty Iris: How an Artist Teamed up with Her Dog to Re-create Art. “Every weekday morning, Eliza Reinhardt and her creative partner, Finn, start their day at 7am by getting up, brewing a cup of coffee, and snuggling while they browse online galleries to find a work of art to re-create as part of the Getty Museum Challenge…. Finn is a three-year-old Australian shepherd, but he follows direction as carefully as an actor on a film set. ‘I really do think Finn takes this on as his daily task,’ Reinhardt said. ‘I say, “Finn, do you want to do a photo? You want to go take a picture?” And he’s ready to go.'” Good morning, Internet…

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