Virtual Universe, National Book Festival, Facebook, More: Friday ResearchBuzz, September 17, 2021


Phys .org: Largest virtual universe free for anyone to explore. “Forget about online games that promise you a ‘whole world’ to explore. An international team of researchers has generated an entire virtual universe, and made it freely available on the cloud to everyone. Uchuu (meaning ‘outer space’ in Japanese) is the largest and most realistic simulation of the universe to date.”


Library of Congress: Welcome to the 2021 National Book Festival!. “Join us for the 2021 National Book Festival, Sept. 17-26. Audiences are invited to create their own festival experience this year, with more than 100 authors in programs in a range of formats. Subscribe to the Festival blog for future updates, and visit the Festival website.”

CNET: Facebook tackles harmful authentic accounts with new approach. “Facebook’s security team routinely takes action against fake accounts that mislead others about their purpose and identity. That team is now going to crack down on groups that attempt to use real accounts to evade enforcement and spread harm. The tech company might reduce the reach of content from these accounts or pull down these authentic accounts, Pages and Groups.” I’m including news like this because Facebook is so large that even what it says it’s going to do makes an impact. But I no longer believe that Facebook is operating with good intentions, and I do not believe it will make any serious effort to limit disinformation on its platform.

Mozilla Blog: Get where you’re going faster, with Firefox Suggest. “Firefox already helps people search their browsing history and tabs and use their preferred search engine directly from Firefox’s Awesome Bar. Firefox Suggest will enhance this by including other sources of information such as Wikipedia, Pocket articles, reviews and credible content from sponsored, vetted partners and trusted organizations.”


The National: Google glitch causes confusion about Indian rupee conversion rate. “A temporary glitch in search engine Google’s currency converter tool on Wednesday showed the dirham-Indian rupee conversion rate to be much lower than it actually is, sparking confusion among Indian expats in the UAE. The Indian rupee was shown to have briefly plunged to about 24.8 versus the UAE dirham on Wednesday, according to rates aggregated by Google.” The rupee was actually worth about triple that.

Meduza: Russian telecoms operators start blocking Google Docs after Navalny’s team uses it to publish ‘Smart Vote’ endorsements. “Telecommunications operators in Russia started blocking Google Docs late in the evening on September 15, the GlobalCheck project reported. According to GlobalCheck, which monitors Russia’s Internet blocking system, the site is being blocked by the telecommunications operators MTS, MegaFon, and Rostelecom. The Internet watchdog Roskomsvoboda reports that Tele2 users are also experiencing disruptions.”

Daily Beast: Fire Rips Through Mysterious Google Mansion. “A three-alarm fire at a Palo Alto home owned by billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page has neighbors demanding answers on whether the California mansion was being used unlawfully as an office for tech workers. On Tuesday night, firefighters responded to a blaze at the 6-bedroom, 5.5-bath home, which per county records has an assessed value of more than $10 million. Fire officials say crews were dispatched to the Bryant Street property at 8:10 p.m., after a neighbor who was away at the time spotted trouble on a security camera.”


The Guardian: The new warrant: how US police mine Google for your location and search history . “It was a routine bike ride around the neighborhood that landed Zachary McCoy in the crosshairs of the Gainesville, Florida, police department. In January 2020, an alarming email from Google landed in McCoy’s inbox. Police were requesting his user data, the company told him, and McCoy had seven days to go to court and block its release. McCoy later found out the request was part of an investigation into the burglary of a nearby home the year before.”

Rolling Stone: Extremists Shared TikTok Videos on How to Access White House via Tunnels, Feds Say. “Domestic extremists used TikTok, an app best known for short videos and viral dances, to spread information about bringing guns to the January 6th Capitol attack and accessing the White House through tunnels, according to a Homeland Security briefing.”

US Department of Justice: 12 Tribes Selected For Participation In Program Enhancing Tribal Access To National Crime Information Databases. “The Department of Justice has selected an additional 12 federally recognized tribes to participate in the expansion of the Tribal Access Program for National Crime Information (TAP), a program that provides tribal governments with means to access, enter, and exchange data with national crime information systems, including those maintained by the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division and the states.”


Washington Post: Facebook keeps researching its own harms — and burying the findings. “While the stories are noteworthy in themselves, their provenance points to a deeper issue at Facebook. It is that the world’s largest social network employs teams of people to study its own ugly underbelly, only to ignore, downplay and suppress the results of their research when it proves awkward or troubling. Why it would do such a thing is a question whose answer lies at least partly in the company’s culture and organizational structure…. Facebook routes weighty decisions about content policy through some of the same executives tasked with government lobbying and public relations — an arrangement that critics say creates a conflict of interest. Often, they seem to prioritize public perception over transparency.

Midlands Historical Review: Early English Books Online: Mass Digitization and the Archive. “This review examines the originations and contemporary usage of the online archive Early English Books Online (EEBO). Highlighting the recent advancements in digital historiography, alongside considerations of inherent archival bias, this article demonstrates a variety of circumstances in which the scholar is encouraged to look beyond the digital archive itself.” Good evening, Internet…

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