Opioid Industry Documents, WWI GIFs, Slack, More: Thursday ResearchBuzz, March 25, 2021


University of California San Francisco: UCSF and Johns Hopkins University Launch Digital Trove of Opioid Industry Documents. “UC San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University today announced the launch of the Opioid Industry Documents Archive, a digital repository of publicly disclosed documents from recent judgments, settlements, and ongoing lawsuits concerning the opioid crisis. The documents come from government litigation against pharmaceutical companies, including opioid manufacturers and distributors related to their contributions to the deadly epidemic, as well as litigation taking place in federal court on behalf of thousands of cities and counties in the United States.”

CNET: New WWI GIFs show the poignant reality of war. “An extensive new collection of GIFs from the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City could expand the perception of the ubiquitous short clips. The GIFs capture daily life during the First World War, from the tragic to the lighthearted, providing a mesmerizing, easily scannable snapshot the museum hopes will help bring history to a younger, GIF-savvy generation.”


BetaNews: Slack rolls back controversial messaging feature within hours of its introduction. “Messaging platform Slack yesterday rolled out a new feature called Connect DM that made it possible to send direct messages to anyone using the service — regardless of whether they are part of the same company or workspace. We say ‘made it possible’ in the past tense because Slack was very quickly forced into something of an embarrassing partial u-turn.”

9to5 Google: Google Search adds practice problems, more step-by-step math explainers. “Google has increasingly made Search a resource for students and others wanting to learn about various topics. The latest additions see Google Search surface practice problems, while expanding other capabilities. You’re now able to find interactive practice problems in Google Search to test your knowledge of high school math, chemistry, and physics.”

NBC News: Zuckerberg calls for changes to tech’s Section 230 protections. “The proposal, which Zuckerberg will present during his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, would raise the bar for social media companies that are currently granted immunity from liability for the content that appears on their platforms.” So giant companies which have a leg up in development and resources sail onward while smaller social networks are crushed by compliance costs.


This article made me start looking around for Allen Funt. MakeUseOf: Don’t Call It a Comeback: “Yahoo+” May Soon Be a Thing. “Verizon is reported to be rebranding all of its consumer-facing media and web properties as Yahoo products while bringing out several new subscription offerings, all under the umbrella of Yahoo+.”

Engadget: 15 years in, Twitter is ready to be more than just tweets. “For 15 years, Twitter has looked pretty much the same. Now, the company is poised to move beyond the tweet with a series of changes that could dramatically alter how people interact on its platform.”


Mpls.St.Paul: Minneapolis Launches Just Deeds Project to Discharge Racially Restrictive Housing Covenants. “Minnesota has one of the nation’s highest disparities in home ownership. We owe that in part to racially restrictive covenants—legal clauses in property deeds that prohibited people of color from owning and renting homes in certain areas—that were first recorded in south Minneapolis in the early 20th century. Racially restrictive covenants were outlawed in 1968, but their legacy shapes our neighborhoods to this day. This week, the city of Minneapolis launched the Just Deeds Project to allow homeowners to fully discharge the covenants recorded against their properties and ‘reclaim their homes as equitable spaces.'” This program is available in other Minnesota cities as well.

AP: Facebook finds Chinese hacking operation targeting Uyghurs. “Hackers in China used fake Facebook accounts and impostor websites to try to break into the computers and smartphones of Uyghur Muslims, the social network said Wednesday. The company said the sophisticated, covert operation targeted Uyghur activists, journalists and dissidents from China’s Xinjiang region, as well as individuals living in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the U.S., Syria, Australia, Canada and other nations.”


Public Citizen: Big Tech, Big Cash: Washington’s New Power Players. “A report Public Citizen released in 2019 (covering up to the 2018 election cycle) detailed how Big Tech corporations have blanketed Capitol Hill with lobbyists and lavished members of Congress with campaign contributions. This is an update of that report, based on data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Since the 2020 election cycle has ended, Public Citizen reevaluated Big Tech’s influence over the government by analyzing the tech companies’ lobbying spending and campaign contributions.”

CNN: Google offered a professor $60,000, but he turned it down. Here’s why. “[Professor Luke] Stark is among a growing number of people in academia who are citing the exits of [Timnit] Gebru and [Margaret] Mitchell for recent decisions to forfeit funding or opportunities provided by the company. Some AI conference organizers are rethinking having Google as a sponsor. And at least one academic who has received a big check from Google in the past has since declared he won’t seek its financial support until changes are made at the company.”

ZDNet: Quantum computing: IBM’s new tool lets users design quantum chips in minutes. “Building the hardware that underpins quantum computers might not sound like everybody’s cup of tea, but IBM is determined to make the idea sound less challenging. The company has announced the general availability of Qiskit Metal, an open-source platform that automates parts of the design process for quantum chips, and which IBM promised will now let ‘anyone’ design quantum hardware.” Good morning, Internet…

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