Afghanistan Casualties, TikTok, iCivics, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, August 21, 2021


USA Today: The people behind the numbers in Afghanistan. “At least 2,443 American service members have died in operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel. More than 3,800 U.S. contractors and Defense Department civilians have been killed. At least 47,000 Afghan citizens, and about 66,000 Afghan military and police members, died, as well as 1,144 allied troops. Even more staggering are the numbers of American warriors who returned home with injuries both seen and unseen. Over 30,000 active duty personnel and war veterans of post-9/11 conflicts are estimated to have died by suicide—four times the number that died in combat. As this war comes to an end, USA TODAY honors the men and women in uniform from every corner of our country who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.”


Tubefilter: TikTok’s Just-Launched SiriusXM Station Marks Sonic Extension Of Its ‘For You Page’. “TikTok Radio, as the station is called, will also feature guest-hosting gigs by top native TikTokers and music superstars who boast a substantial following on the platform. These figures will host Creator Invasion, including Alex Warren, Ashnikko, Bella Poarch, Dillon Francis, Dixie D’Amelio, Ed Sheeran, Just Stef, JXDN, Lil Nas X, Loren Gray, Noah Beck, Normani, Spencer X, Tai Verdes, and Walker Hayes.”

Larry Ferlazzo: iCivics Upgrades Its Site & Adds New Features. “iCivics made a number of changes to their site this month, and added some features. I’ve often posted about its different activities, though this year will be the first time I expect to be trying out many of them since I’m teaching ELLs U.S. Government for the first time.”

9to5 Google: Neat tool replaces Google Discover w/ Google Now-like ‘Snapshot’ on rooted Android phones. “Kieron Quinn, a fairly well-known Android developer and tinkerer, this week revealed a new tool that’s been in the works for some time called ‘Discover Killer.’ The tool, true to its name, can turn off Google Discover on your homescreen or replace it with something you prefer.”


New York Times: Facebook, Fearing Public Outcry, Shelved Earlier Report on Popular Posts. “In that report, a copy of which was provided to The Times, the most-viewed link was a news article with a headline suggesting that the coronavirus vaccine was at fault for the death of a Florida doctor. The report also showed that a Facebook page for The Epoch Times, an anti-China newspaper that spreads right-wing conspiracy theories, was the 19th-most-popular page on the platform for the first three months of 2021.”

CNET: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube face content challenges as Afghanistan falls. “A CNN reporter stands in front of a photo of a helicopter flying over the US embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, a city that has fallen into chaos. Underneath the image, a caption states: ‘Violent but mostly peaceful transfer of power.’ The image, supposedly a screengrab of the network, circulated widely on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, prompting questions about its authenticity. How could the transfer be considered peaceful, some wondered. Was the language meant to be satire? Turns out the image was fake.”


The Verge: How to stop a hate raid. “Hate raids happen with little warning. A streamer will get a follow notification and instead of feeling joy that a new person has joined their community, dread sets in as their chat suddenly erupts into an uncontrollable geyser of hateful messages. Hate raids have infested Twitch over the last few weeks, primarily targeting marginalized streamers making life on the platform so miserable many are considering abandoning it altogether.” An infuriating example of a user community relying on itself after the parent company fails to deliver. Remember, Twitch is owned by Amazon. And Amazon was sitting on something like $68 billion in cash reserves as of January. This is not a case of a scrappy startup not having the resources.

Engadget: T-Mobile says data for 6 million additional customers was compromised in breach. “T-Mobile says millions more people have been impacted by its recent data breach than initially believed. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said an additional 6 million or so accounts were affected, taking the total to more than 54 million.”

Ubergizmo: Fire Exit Locks Recalled After Faulty Firmware Prevents Them From Opening. “Doors open and close, and almost never do they fail to do that unless there’s something physically preventing it from happening. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with around 2,400 fire locks that have been recalled in the US. This is because due to faulty firmware, it prevented the doors from opening.”


BuzzFeed News: A Big Study About Honesty Turns Out To Be Based On Fake Data. “A landmark study that endorsed a simple way to curb cheating is going to be retracted nearly a decade later after a group of scientists found that it relied on faked data. According to the 2012 paper, when people signed an honesty declaration at the beginning of a form, rather than the end, they were less likely to lie.”

Mashable: Facebook report claims decline in hate speech. Experts want more info.. “A report says hate speech is declining on Facebook. The problem? The report is from Facebook. And activists say it’s missing valuable context, data, and transparency. ‘This report fails to answer simple questions we have been asking for years: How much hate speech is there on Facebook? How many users are exposed to it?’ Imran Ahmed, the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told Mashable.”

The Conversation: Is it actually false, or do you just disagree? Why Twitter’s user-driven experiment to tackle misinformation is complicated. “Despite the many factors that influence how individuals identify misleading information, there is still much to be learned from how large groups come to identify what seems misleading. Such data, if made available in some capacity, have great potential to benefit the science of misinformation. And combined with moderation and objective fact-checking approaches, it might even help the platform mitigate the spread of misinformation.”


Hackaday: Dedicated Box Makes YouTube More TV-Like. “[Exposed Wire] is a huge fan of YouTube and consumes a lot of content. If that sounds familiar, maybe you should build a dedicated YouTube box, too. You get to push buttons, there’s LEDs, and you can take a break from other screens to look at this one for a while. [Exposed Wire] wanted to make it easier to watch the latest videos from their favorite creators, but we would argue that this is more fun, too.” This would be just the thing for a someone with dementia. The controls are buttons that link to specific channels, and there’s a large image/icon beside each button. Good morning, Internet…

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