Google Labs, Google Forms, Community Pollution, More: Friday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, November 12, 2021


TechCrunch: Google reorg moves AR, VR, Starline and Area 120 into new ‘Labs’ team. “Google Labs is back, but this time around, it’s not a consumer-facing brand delivering a range of experimental products. Instead, it’s the internal name given to a new team at Google created under a reorganization that aims to gather the company’s many innovative projects and long-term bets under one roof. The new group will be led by Clay Bavor, a veteran Googler and VP whose most recent role has seen him leading the company’s forward-looking efforts in virtual and augmented reality, including its cutting-edge holographic videoconferencing project known as Project Starline.”


MakeUseOf: The 12 Finest Google Forms Alternatives You Should Try. “Believe it or not, there’s a world outside of Google and some pretty great Google Forms alternatives exist that are definitely worth trying out. These tools are generally a little more sophisticated, more focused on design, and offer some features that a free platform like Google Forms just can’t.”

ProPublica: How You Can Report on the Toxic Hot Spots Near You. “Is the community you cover located in or near a hot spot of cancer-causing industrial air pollution? The ProPublica reporters who built the most detailed map of toxic hot spots have created this guide to help journalists across the country illuminate the risks readers face and the remedies they might have to hold government and industry accountable.”


Bloomberg CityLab: Hong Kong’s New Museum Tries to Please Art World — and Beijing. “When planning for M+ began in the early 2000s, Hong Kong was still a relatively free-wheeling place, a cosmopolitan gateway to the growing economy over the border. No more. After mass protests, the 2020 national security law made all kinds of dissent a criminal offense, leaving the staff of M+ to interpret the rapidly expanding rules governing expression. Compounding the challenge, the more than 8,000 works in the M+ collection include a HK$1.3 billion ($167 million) collection of Chinese contemporary art donated by Swiss collector Uli Sigg in 2012, featuring work by Zhang Xiaogang and noted dissident Ai Weiwei.”

BBC: Poland-Belarus: How social media posts fuelled the migrant crisis. “On Monday, Poland accused Belarus of sending a large group of migrants to breach the border, calling it a major provocation. But it appears the mass move to a single crossing point may have been orchestrated by the migrants themselves, not the Belarusian authorities. Over a period of several days from late last week, Kurdish Telegram and Facebook groups with thousands of members were full of messages, telling migrants to head for a single location, with a specific purpose in mind.”


SPIEGEL International: The European Commission Deletes Mass Amounts of Emails and Doesn’t Archive Chats. “Each month, the European Commission deletes several thousand emails and texts, and WhatsApp messages are not archived at all. Now, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is, once again, facing uncomfortable questions about allegedly deleted text messages. An expert describes the practices as legally ‘questionable.'”

Ubergizmo: iOS 15.2 Will Alert Parents If Their Kids Send Or Receive Explicit Photos. “Back in August, Apple announced that they would be introducing additional child safety features to iOS. One of these features is expected to make its debut in iOS 15.2, and that is the ability for iOS to detect when sexually explicit photos are being sent or received through the Messages app on the iPhone or iPad.”

Department of Justice: Russian Cybercriminal Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Digital Advertising Fraud Scheme . “Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced by United States District Judge Eric R. Komitee to 10 years’ imprisonment for perpetrating a digital advertising fraud scheme through which the defendant and his co-conspirators stole more than $7 million from U.S. advertisers, publishers, platforms, and others in the U.S. digital advertising industry. The Court also ordered Zhukov to pay $3,827,493 in forfeiture. Zhukov, a Russian national who was arrested in Bulgaria in 2018, was extradited to the United States in 2019, and was convicted following a jury trial in May 2021 of wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering.”


Voice of America: Study: Bots Used to Manipulate Social Media in Favor of European Super League . “Hundreds of bots and thousands of fake accounts run by ‘troll farms’ tried to manipulate social media debates in favor of the European Super League (ESL) after the project was announced last April, according to a study from a Spanish digital consultancy. The study from Pandemia Digital, which was first published by Spanish news outlet El Confidencial, said several fake Twitter accounts amplified pro-ESL and anti-UEFA content in the 72 hours following the project’s announcement.”

EurekAlert: AI can tell if you a therapy session will be effective. “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common types of talk therapy in the United States. There are 11 criteria that cognitive behavioral therapists-in-training are normally judged on. What if their skills could be evaluated and improved with feedback from AI? This is the crux of new research from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington. It’s the first study of CBT sessions done with real people in real, therapeutic conversations. The findings were recently published in PLOSOne.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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