Instagram, Telegram, Facebook, More: Monday Evening ResearchBuzz, August 30, 2021


CNET: Instagram users must disclose their birthday to the company going forward. “If you haven’t already informed it of your birthday, Instagram will start to ask you for that information when you open the app. You’ll receive a handful of reminder notifications, according to Instagram, but if you haven’t provided your birthday by a certain point, you won’t be able to use the app.”

TechCrunch: Telegram tops 1 billion downloads. “Popular instant messaging app Telegram has joined the elite club of apps that have been downloaded over 1 billion times globally, according to Sensor Tower. The Dubai-headquartered app, which was launched in late 2013, surpassed the milestone on Friday, the mobile insight firm told TechCrunch. As is the case with the app’s chief rival, WhatsApp, India is the largest market for Telegram. The world’s second largest internet market represents approximately 22% of its lifetime installs, Sensor Tower said.”


Washington Post: How to block Facebook from snooping on you. “Facebook says it’s not literally activating the microphones on our smartphones, but it is tracking what we do in other apps, websites and even real-world stores. That much data can make ads feel as on-point as if it was in the room…. So what can you do about it? If you’re very committed — or a bit techie — there are some steps you can take to try to hide from Facebook’s personal data vacuum.”

Make Tech Easier: 10 of the Best Free Ebook Download Libraries. “You may be surprised to find out there are thousands of free ebooks available to download from digital libraries. Whether you like to read on a Kindle, iPad or smartphone, we’ve searched the web to discover the best places to download short stories, novels, and even kids books – all without spending a dime. Let’s take a look at the best ebook libraries you can visit today to download free ebooks.”


N Lifestyle: Metaverse style: the fashion houses vying to dress your online avatar. “This weekend, Dolce & Gabbana’s couture NFT (non-fungible token) collection will be released. The fashion house is to reveal its high jewellery and haute couture collections for men and women (Alta Gioielleria, Alto Sartoria and Alto Moda respectively) in Venice, and it will also unwrap its first-ever NFT collection called Collezione Genesi. Comprising nine pieces, four will be entirely digital, while the remaining five – two dresses, a man’s suit and two crowns – will have both physical and digital iterations.”

Search Engine Land: How Google and Yelp handle fake reviews and policy violations. “Unfortunately, bad actors may seek to harm a business’s online reputation through fake reviews or by crowding them out with fake listings. While Yelp and Google both have extensive systems and policies to fight bad actors, there are important distinctions that every local marketer should be aware of, and knowing them can help frame your expectations for each platform as well as enable you to make more informed decisions about where to spend your time and resources.”


NPR: China’s Microsoft Hack May Have Had A Bigger Purpose Than Just Spying. “NPR’s months-long examination of the attack — based on interviews with dozens of players from company officials to cyber forensics experts to U.S. intelligence officials — found that stealing emails and intellectual property may only have been the beginning. Officials believe that the breach was in the service of something bigger: China’s artificial intelligence ambitions. The Beijing leadership aims to lead the world in a technology that allows computers to perform tasks that traditionally required human intelligence — such as finding patterns and recognizing speech or faces.”

CNN: Google and Apple’s next regulatory headaches are looming across the Pacific. “Google and Apple are catching heat for their app store and payments practices in Asia Pacific. Less than a week after Apple said it would allow App Store developers to promote alternative payment methods to their users, South Korea is poised to end restrictions that critics say harm competition. And Australia is piling on the pressure by floating reforms for how to tackle payment systems provided by Apple and Google.”


Quanta Magazine: Computer Scientists Discover Limits of Major Research Algorithm. “Many aspects of modern applied research rely on a crucial algorithm called gradient descent. This is a procedure generally used for finding the largest or smallest values of a particular mathematical function — a process known as optimizing the function. It can be used to calculate anything from the most profitable way to manufacture a product to the best way to assign shifts to workers. Yet despite this widespread usefulness, researchers have never fully understood which situations the algorithm struggles with most.”

The Conversation: Data privacy laws in the US protect profit but prevent sharing data for public good – people want the opposite. “U.S. data protection laws often widely permit using data for profit but are more restrictive of socially beneficial uses. We wanted to ask a simple question: Do U.S. privacy laws actually protect data in the ways that Americans want? Using a national survey, we found that the public’s preferences are inconsistent with the restrictions imposed by U.S. privacy laws.” Good evening, Internet…

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