Venezuela Fact-Checking, Mesoamerica, Google Maps, More: Saturday ResearchBuzz, September 24, 2022


Miami Herald: Venezuela is a conduit for Russian propaganda, says disinformation watchdog. “Venezuela has become a conduit for Russian Spanish-language propaganda in Latin America, according to a media watchdog that is releasing a new tool that seeks to dispel misinformation in the country and region.”

The Verge: Google’s new adventure game takes a top-down trip through ancient Mesoamerica. “Google’s Arts & Culture division has released a charming new educational game all about ancient Mesoamerica. The game, The Descent of the Serpent, is available to play right now in your browser or via the Google Arts & Culture iOS and Android apps.”


Birmingham Mail: Google Maps makes sombre change after the Queen’s death. “‘PegMa’am’ was introduced in 2015. It meant, whenever you were near Buckingham Palace, the cursor would transform into a portrait of Her Majesty. Google has quietly dropped the feature after the monarch died aged 96 at Balmoral earlier this month.”

9to5 Google: YouTube says it has ‘concluded’ a test that saw as many as 10 unskippable ads in one break [U]. “Ad breaks on YouTube videos typically appear before a video begins as well as during that video if the creator allows it. Generally, these breaks can last as little as a few seconds or go as long as a few minutes, but longer ads usually come with the option to skip that ad after a set period. Over the past month or two, some YouTube viewers have noted that advertisements on the platform have been expanding greatly in length and quantity, especially in unskippable formats.”


New York Times: In India, Debunking Fake News and Running Into the Authorities. “Led by its founders, Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, Alt News has criticized supporters and officials of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party for their statements targeting minorities. But in a reflection of the growing concerns about the independence and freedom of the news media in India, Mr. Zubair has landed in the authorities’ cross hairs.”

Kotaku: Somehow This Video Game Belly Button Was Too Sexy For Google. “Just a few weeks after Hook Up: The Game released on Android, developer Sophie Artemigi was surprised to see the visual novel flagged for inappropriate sexual content.” This story is so weird that I can’t encompass it in a quote. I kept thinking about Barbara Eden’s belly button.

ABC News (Australia): Canberra galleries, museums call for urgent budget aid to undo decade of ‘utter neglect’. “Canberra’s top museums and galleries say they cannot afford to fix their ageing buildings and are pleading for financial aid in next month’s federal budget. A lobby group representing the cultural institutions said about $800 million was needed to repair the facilities, which include places like the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and the National Library of Australia (NLA).”


Washington Post: How vigilante ‘predator catchers’ are infiltrating the criminal justice system. “In the past three years, at least 160 groups have been ‘catching predators’ in the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis of their social media posts. This year alone, a YouTube channel tracking catchers has counted more than 920 stings by amateurs. Some are fueled by right-wing rhetoric about ‘groomers’ and the need to ‘save the children.’ Some are parents fearful for their own kids, or, like Schmutte, say they are called by God to do this work. Some make thousands of dollars from clicks and donations.”

Reuters: UK to examine cloud services dominated by Amazon, Microsoft and Google. “Britain said it would investigate competition in cloud services, a market dominated by the ‘hyperscalers’ Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google, which together account for around 81% of revenue.”


UGA Today: Did my computer say it best?. “With autocorrect and auto-generated email responses, algorithms offer plenty of assistance to help people express themselves. But new research from the University of Georgia shows people who rely on computer algorithms for assistance with language-related, creative tasks didn’t improve their performance and were more likely to trust low-quality advice.”

Tech Policy Press: It’s Time to Stop Platforming the “Big Lie” Playbook. “With Truth Social emerging as a megaphone for misinformation and extremism, tech companies that are serious about upholding their publicly professed commitments to prevent the promotion of violent content must ban Truth Social from their online stores.”


New Scientist: Drone swarm that 3D prints cement structures could construct buildings. “Drones working together can create large 3D-printed structures made of foam or cement. The experiments are paving the way for a future where swarms of drones could help construct extremely tall or intricate buildings and other structures like bridges without the need for support scaffolding or large construction machinery.” Good morning, Internet…

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