United States Lawmaking, Bird Song Identification, Pegasus Spyware, More: Wednesday ResearchBuzz, July 7, 2021


Library of Congress: Library of Congress Adds ‘A Century of Lawmaking’ to Congress. gov. “The Library of Congress announced today that U.S. congressional records dating back to the days of printing presses and the telegraph are now easily accessible on mobile devices. With this latest update of — the official website for U.S. federal legislative information — the Library has transitioned over 33,000 bills and resolutions crafted by Congress between 1799 and 1873 (the 6th to 42nd U.S. Congresses) to a modern, user-friendly web format.”

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: What Bird is Singing? Ask the Merlin Bird ID App for an Instant Answer . “Hear a bird singing? Today with the free Merlin Bird ID app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, you can make a quantum leap in bird identification just by holding up your phone. As Merlin listens with you it uses AI technology to identify each species like magic, displaying in real time a list and photos of the birds that are singing or calling.”

TechCrunch: A new ‘digital violence’ platform maps dozens of victims of NSO Group’s spyware. “For the first time, researchers have mapped all the known targets, including journalists, activists, and human rights defenders, whose phones were hacked by Pegasus, a spyware developed by NSO Group.”


BetaNews: Microsoft issues emergency patches for critical PrintNightmare security flaw. “Microsoft has released a series of out of-band security patches for the PrintNightmare bug that was recently exposed. The remote code execution vulnerability exits in the Windows Print Spooler; it affects all versions of Windows, and the company is even offering patches for the unsupported Windows 7.”

Poynter: Nigeria banned Twitter one month ago. Here’s how it’s impacting fact-checkers. “A month into Nigeria’s Twitter ban, fact-checkers aren’t seeing a feared drop off in the size of their audience, but are seeing restrictions on the reach of some of their content.”


New York Times: Iranian Disinformation Effort Went Small to Stay Under Big Tech’s Radar. “The first-of-its-kind discovery of the Iranian campaign by FakeReporter, an Israeli disinformation watchdog group, offers insight into how countries have miniaturized their disinformation campaigns in an effort to stay under the radar of tech companies that have become more aggressive in rooting them out.”

CNET: How fake reviews flood Amazon, fueled by Facebook groups like this one. “Valerie Zhong, the administrator of the Club Ki-Fair group on Facebook, made a simple commitment: Join her group and get free samples of household products. The generous offer promised to put hair care products, nail polishes and coffee makers into the hands of members. There was, of course, a catch. Club members had to buy the products and write a review for Amazon, where they were sold. Then, the purchases would be refunded.”

Counterpunch: Turning Memes into Money in El Salvador. “On June 5, President Nayib Bukele announced his plans to make El Salvador the world’s first country to accept Bitcoin, a popular digital cryptocurrency, as a form of legal tender. The nation’s legislative assembly, under the majority control of Bukele’s New Ideas party, passed the bill just three days later. Under the new legislation, Bitcoin must be accepted as payment by all private firms and by the nation’s tax authorities. The move puts El Salvador into uncharted territory, posing serious risks that likely outweigh any potential benefits.”


Motherboard: Hackers Scrape 90,000 GETTR User Emails, Surprising No One. “On Tuesday, a user of a notorious hacking forum posted a database that they claimed was a scrape of all users of GETTR, the new social media platform launched last week by Trump’s former spokesman Jason Miller, who pitched it as an alternative to ‘cancel culture.’ The data seen by Motherboard includes email addresses, usernames, status, and location.”

Washington Post: Evidence found on a second Indian activist’s computer was planted, report says. “The two activists were jailed in 2018 and accused of plotting an insurgency against the government. A new forensic report concludes they also shared something else: They were both victims of the same hacker who planted evidence on their computers. The finding raises fresh doubts about a case that rights groups consider an effort to crack down on critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. More than a dozen activists have been imprisoned without trial under a stringent anti-terrorism law that rarely results in convictions.”


MIT Sloan: Social media is broken. A new report offers 25 ways to fix it. “Researchers, policymakers, and users have identified several key issues with the social media ecosystem. These include vast power held by a few corporations, which hurts innovation and competition; the spread of false news and debates about the limits of free speech; how social media threatens privacy, election integrity, and democracy; and platform oversight and transparency.”

Wired: This AI Helps Police Monitor Social Media. Does It Go Too Far?. “SINCE 2016, CIVIL liberties groups have raised alarms about online surveillance of social media chatter by city officials and police departments. Services like Media Sonar, Social Sentinel, and Geofeedia analyze online conversations, clueing in police and city leaders to what hundreds of thousands of users are saying online. Zencity, an Israeli data-analysis firm that serves 200 agencies across the US, markets itself as a less invasive alternative, because it offers only aggregate data and forbids targeted surveillance of protests.” Good morning, Internet…

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