James Webb Space Telescope, Robocalls, Clubhouse, more: Saturday ResearchBuzz, December 25, 2021


CNN: The James Webb Space Telescope has successfully launched. “It’s a moment that has been decades in the making. The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s premier space observatory of the next decade, successfully launched on Christmas morning. The telescope lifted off atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 7:20 a.m. ET.”

CNET: Robocalls are still out of control — and aren’t likely to stop in 2022. “Since a peak in March 2021 when Americans got 4.9 billion robocalls, Stir/Shaken has helped curb the number of robocalls, according to YouMail, a company specializing in blocking robocalls. In November that figure was down to 4.1 billion calls for the month, YouMail said. Still, the volume of robocalls is rising again, and Americans are getting more than they did in November 2020, when 3.8 billion robocalls set phones ringing and buzzing.”

MakeUseOf: How to Enable Live Captions on Clubhouse. “The wait is over. Clubhouse has finally launched a long-awaited live captions feature. If you prefer to read live captions instead of listening to audio while out in public, or if you’re deaf or hard of hearing, this feature will be especially helpful to you.”


Poynter: These 6 tips will help you spot misinformation online. “Here are six tools and techniques you, your friends (or enemies) and family can use to make a dent in the false information flowing on the internet today.”


Mashable: Google’s Santa Tracker isn’t just a holiday treat, it’s also made Google better . “The Santa Tracker originally launched in Dec. 2004, and has been continuously updated by Google’s team ever since. It’s gotten big features, like new coding games and voice assistant integration, and small ones, like a mask for Santa to protect himself and others during the pandemic. And according to the official Google blog, the developers behind each update have found that working on the Santa Tracker is not only a fun holiday tradition, but useful for overall Google service development, too.”

New York Times: TikTok Made Them Famous. Figuring Out What’s Next Is Tough.. “This year, the app’s biggest stars — Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, Noah Beck, Addison Rae and others — leapt from the phone screen to other platforms in the pop culture universe, with mixed results.”

BBC: Climate change: Small army of volunteers keeping deniers off Wikipedia. “Wikipedia has for so long been plagued by climate change denial. But a group of dedicated volunteers around the world is working tirelessly to keep the deniers at bay.”


Moscow Times: Russia Fines Google, Meta Record $125M for Banned Content. “Russia has slapped tech giants Google and Meta with record penalties totaling over $125 million for repeated failure to remove banned content, state media reported Friday. The fines mark the first time Russia has imposed a fine based on a company’s turnover and comes as Moscow amplifies pressure on foreign internet platforms, which it says regularly fail to take down content in compliance with Russian law.” This is wild. Russia hits Silicon Valley firms with fines regularly, but usually they’re $100K USD or so.

Lifehacker: How to Tell If eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace Items Are Stolen. “These spaces operate more like virtual flea markets—except without the option of inspecting the items (in person) yourself. For this, and other reasons, it’s not uncommon for stolen goods to end up for sale on these sites. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, what it refers to as ‘organized retail crime’ (ORC) currently costs retailers an average of $700,000 per $1 billion in sales, and roughly 75% of retailers surveyed in 2020 saw an increase in ORC that year alone. So how do you tell what’s legitimately (and legally) being sold or resold, and what’s hot? Here are a few red flags to look out for when shopping at online marketplaces.”


Route Fifty: White House AI Initiative Launches Public Research Support Tools. “A new section of resources intended for artificial intelligence researchers was launched last Friday by the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, with a goal of providing easy access to data sets and testbed environments for AI application training.”

UK Government: Social media influencers and counterfeit goods Executive summary. “The main aim of this study was to determine whether social media influencers have a meaningful impact on the intentions of female adults to purchase counterfeit goods. The study found that deviant SM influencers exert a significant influence as trusted others, prompting 10% of respondents to purchase counterfeit goods across a wide range of product sectors.”

CNN: This holiday, let’s stop this social media pretending. “This holiday season, I have a simple wish. Innovators gave us great digital tools to smooth out wrinkles and erase blemishes. We can lighten and brighten every snapshot and social media can give us powerful ways to connect with friends and family near and far. But we don’t need a photo filter for real life. Real life is messy. In fact, that’s what makes it interesting, challenging and fun. So starting in 2022, can’t we end the great pretend and share who we really are?” Good morning, Internet…

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