India Bird Feathers, Twitter, Dirt, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, December 2, 2021


Times of India: A feather in the birding cap: Compendium of flight secrets. “Have you ever picked up a feather and wondered to which bird it might belong? The ‘birdman of India’ Salim Ali referred to birds as feathered bipeds in his field guide, ‘The Book of Indian Birds’. That statement signals the centrality of feathers in the avian story. A couple of young birders have now come together to create what is perhaps the first online feather library for Indian birds.” The site’s been live for about two weeks and appears to still be populating. What is here is ridiculously thorough and detailed, with a simple, polished site design.


Hyperallergic: New Twitter Policy Bans Posting Photos of People Without Consent. “The move is an update to Twitter’s existing private information policy, which already banned users from posting personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, and IDs. Now, the list also includes media that could potentially violate a person’s privacy and lead to abuse. (A separate non-consensual nudity policy has been in place since 2019.)”

Twitter Blog: Disclosing state-linked information operations we’ve removed. “Today, we’re disclosing an additional 3,465 accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations — the only one of its kind in the industry. The account sets include eight distinct operations we’ve attributed to six countries – Mexico, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Venezuela, respectively. Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service.”


NBC News: ‘Magic dirt’: How the internet fueled, and defeated, the pandemic’s weirdest MLM. “The social media posts started in May: photos and videos of smiling people, mostly women, drinking Mason jars of black liquid, slathering black paste on their faces and feet, or dipping babies and dogs in tubs of the black water. They tagged the posts #BOO and linked to a website that sold a product called Black Oxygen Organics.” This story is wild.

Washington Post: Up all night with a Twitch millionaire: The loneliness and rage of the Internet’s new rock stars. “At 26, Tyler is a millionaire and one of the Internet’s most popular streamers. For 50 hours a week, he broadcasts himself playing video games from his cramped living room in his 900-person Missouri hometown to 4.6 million followers, watching from around the world. He earns more than $200,000 a month in Twitch ads and viewer subscriptions. Sponsorships with Nike and Doritos, contracts with giant esports teams, fan donations and merchandise sales have earned him millions more.” This story? Also wild.

Military Times: ‘Toyotas of War’ is the photo archive we never knew we needed. “No one can argue that Toyota vehicles are dependable, affordable, and abundant. But ask any veteran of the last 50 years and they’ll tell you these Japanese automobiles are vehicles of war. In fact, there was even a Toyota War fought in the late 80s between Libya and Chad, named thus for the Toyota Hilux and the Toyota LandCruiser, which the Chadians selected for their durability and mobility in battle. But one man, Chris, 26, has made it his life’s work to chronicle the use of Toyotas in combat through his Instagram page…”


USA Today: Debt collectors can now DM you on social media. “Debt collectors have a variety of ways to contact you, and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau added a new way for them to reach you: social media. Don’t worry, debt collectors won’t be able to comment on your posts or write up something for the public to see. But according to a release from the CFPB Tuesday, they now can privately message you on social media.”

WWD: Social Media Has an Image Problem. “Big Tech’s image may need to be rehabbed, but for social media giants Twitter and Meta, it’s actual imagery that’s become the issue. The former instituted a new policy on Tuesday barring tweeting out photos and videos of private individuals without their consent, while a U.K. anti-competition watchdog ordered the company formerly known as Facebook to sell off GIF platform Giphy, effectively undoing the $400 million acquisition. ”


New Statesman: It is time to regulate Twitter and other social media platforms as publishers. “Now Dorsey is gone, Twitter needs to get real. It is surely one of the biggest purveyors of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia and sheer toxicity in history. It could shed millions of fake accounts tomorrow. It could publish its algorithms. It could require all users to have real identities, even while some might legitimately maintain pseudonyms. It could, in short, mature into the kind of platform that helps maintain democracy, civility and truth. Instead, it is one weaponised to destroy them.”

Brookings Institution: How to fix social media? Start with independent research.. “Given the tremendous public interest in understanding social media’s impact on the quality of American democracy, it is important to note that unlike the administrative (e.g., election results, economic indicators) or self-created (e.g., surveys, lab experiments) data that social scientists mined to understand political phenomena in the pre-internet age, some of the most important data related to political behavior is now locked up in a few large internet companies. As a result, there may be more politically relevant data than ever before, but a smaller share of it is now accessible to outside researchers. Researchers have deployed creative methods from the outside, but nothing can substitute for access to the raw data held by the firms themselves.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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