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Twitter, Amazon Alexa, GameBender, More: Thursday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, May 30, 2019

Hey y’all! The latest Inside Google & Alphabet newsletter is available at https://inside.com/campaigns/inside-google-alphabet-2019-05-30-14665 . Today’s topics include YouTube’s trending videos, Google Play, and a Throwback Thursday to Google Wave! Remember, the newsletter comes out every weekday excepting holidays and it’s free. Sign up here: https://inside.com/google

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

The Verge: Twitter is looking to hire a ‘master in the art of Twitter’ to become its Tweeter in Chief. “In the age of brands engaging in disturbing levels of personified intimacy with users on social media to package and sell mental illness or fashion consumption as a radical act of self-expression, Twitter itself is realizing that it needs some of the same marketing magic its platform has gifted fast food brands. streaming services, and cookie companies. That or Twitter wants its own Wendy’s chicken nugget or Instagram record-breaking egg moment.” When a pulled quote just makes you go uuuuugh.

CNET: Amazon’s new Alexa features puts added emphasis on privacy. “Privacy has become a much bigger concern for consumers and Amazon appears to be paying attention. The tech giant on Wednesday said it made it easier for users to delete their Alexa voice recordings.”

Santa Cruz Sentinel: GameBender teaches children how to code while gaming. “Instead of watching a TV show passively on the couch, children can now make changes as they watch and learn how to code, thanks to GameBender. The education startup, created by the makers of Makey Makey, will release its first gaming system Wednesday. Headquartered in Cocoa Beach, Florida, GameBender gives children the ability to make edits to characters and their actions on video games, science apps and DIY TV shows from the visual programming language nonprofit Scratch.”

USEFUL STUFF

KnowTechie: 7 of the smartest AI-apps I’ve used so far. Apparently a guest post, but a fun guest post. “Nowadays, there are plenty of apps that you can download at home onto your smartphone to see just how far AI has come. Not sure where to look? Here are 7 of the smartest AI-apps I’ve used so far.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Slate: Donald Trump’s Wikipedia Entry Is a War Zone. “On July 16, 2018, Democrats, Republicans, and the media were reeling from the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki. President Donald Trump had announced before the entire world that he didn’t ‘see any reason why’ Russia would have interfered in the 2016 election, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary gathered by the intelligence community…. Wikipedia editors, meanwhile, were split over whether the summit was momentous enough to include on Donald Trump’s page, one of the site’s most contentious areas.” The headline might have given you the idea that this is one of those incendiary articles. It’s not. It’s a deep dive with an interesting look at Wikipedia’s editing mechanisms and culture.

WRAL: Many items in Rhode Island’s archives are at risk of damage. “Many items in the Rhode Island archives, including the state’s copy of the Bill of Rights, are at risk of damage because they’re kept in a building that’s not meant for preserving rare, historic documents, according to an assessment released Tuesday.”

NBC News: Did the Iranians create fake U.S. social media accounts and pose as GOP politicians?. “Starting in April 2018, a group of anonymous people created fake American social media accounts to pose as journalists, plant letters to newspapers and impersonate Republican candidates for Congress — all in an apparent effort to promote Iranian interests. Was this the work of an Iranian intelligence service? A third country? A band of pranksters?”

SECURITY & LEGAL

United States Army: CID warns Army community about social media impersonation of Soldier accounts. “U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (CID) Computer Crime Investigative Unit (CCIU) is once again warning Soldiers and the Army community to be on the lookout for ‘social media scams’ where cybercriminals impersonate service members by using actual and fictitious information, not just for ‘trust-based relationship scams,’ also known as romance scams, but for other impersonation crimes such as sales schemes and advance fee schemes.”

India Times: Andhra Pradesh agriculture ministry site exposed Aadhaar data of farmers. “Aadhaar numbers of thousands of farmers in Andhra Pradesh have been leaked, with the state’s agriculture ministry exposing the details through an open database on its website. A French security researcher who goes by the Twitter name Elliot Alderson and @fs0c131y Twitter handle, first discovered the data breach on Tuesday.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

Wired: To Fight Deepfakes, Researchers Built a Smarter Camera. “One of the most difficult things about detecting manipulated photos, or ‘deepfakes,’ is that digital photo files aren’t coded to be tamper-evident. But researchers from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering are starting to develop strategies that make it easier to tell if a photo has been altered, opening up a potential new front in the war on fakery.”

SecurityWeek: Research Shows Twitter Manipulation in Weeks Before EU Elections. “This is an age of large scale political social engineering through social media, both by advertising and the presentation of misleading data. International social engineering became frontpage news with the 2016 US presidential elections, but has not abated since. Researchers with the Sherpa project analyzed the use of social media as a recommendation system — specifically Twitter — ahead of the European elections in May 2019.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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Facebook, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Sri Lanka Attacks, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, April 22, 2019

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Search Engine Journal: Facebook is Testing Upvotes and Downvotes for Comments . “Facebook has been spotted testing the ability for users to upvote and downvote comments. This test appears to be limited to the Android app, which is common when tests like these are spotted in the wild.”

Reuters: New U.S. consumer watchdog chief to continue review of complaints database, fair lending. “The new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will continue with reviews, begun by her predecessor, of its public complaints database and how the agency enforces discriminatory lending laws, she told Reuters.”

Washington Post: Sri Lankan government blocks social media and imposes curfew following deadly blasts. “The Sri Lankan government blocked access to social media platforms on Sunday in the wake of explosions that killed more than 200 people on the holiest day of the Christian calendar. The blasts, which targeted churches during Easter Sunday services and luxury hotels, also prompted the government to impose an immediate nationwide curfew.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

TechCrunch: Add Craigslist to the tech platforms Russians used to manipulate the 2016 election. “In one of the weirder revelations to come out of the Mueller report released this morning, it seems that Craigslist was yet another tech platform used in Russia’s election influence campaign. Facebook? Sure. Instagram? Yup, that too. YouTube? Twitter? Oh my, yes. Even Tumblr makes an appearance (LOL. Tumblr). But Craigslist?”

New York Times: After Social Media Bans, Militant Groups Found Ways to Remain. “Hezbollah is among dozens of groups classified by the United States as terrorist entities that have learned how to stay a step ahead of the social media giants. In the past, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have taken down the official pages of these militant groups dozens of times and banned their accounts. But Hamas and Hezbollah, in particular, have evolved by getting their supporters to publish images and videos that deliver their message — but that do not set off the alarm bells of the social media platforms. ”

Ars Technica: Facebook fights to “shield Zuckerberg” from punishment in US privacy probe. “Federal Trade Commission officials are discussing whether to hold Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for Facebook’s privacy failures, according to reports by The Washington Post and NBC News. Facebook has been trying to protect Zuckerberg from that possibility in negotiations with the FTC, the Post wrote.”

SECURITY & LEGAL

ZDNet: Source code of Iranian cyber-espionage tools leaked on Telegram. “In an incident reminiscent of the Shadow Brokers leak that exposed the NSA’s hacking tools, someone has now published similar hacking tools belonging to one of Iran’s elite cyber-espionage units, known as APT34, Oilrig, or HelixKitten. The hacking tools are nowhere near as sophisticated as the NSA tools leaked in 2017, but they are dangerous nevertheless.”

BetaNews: Millions of people still have pathetically weak, easily hacked passwords. “Analysis carried out by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that huge numbers of people are still — despite continued advice — using weak, easy-to-guess passwords to secure their accounts. The most commonly used password on breached accounts was found to be 123456, and there were plenty of others that were similarly insecure. The NCSC, in conjunction with Have I Been Pwned’s Troy Hunt, has also published a list of the 100,000 most common passwords globally.”

RESEARCH & OPINION

Slashgear: Facebook Clear History tool: One button, no show. “It’s been 352 days since the Facebook Clear History button was announced, and still we have no such button. What’s the holdup? Why would Facebook announce a button that could wipe out an individual’s files and history on the social network’s servers, then not deliver? The answer is clear: They probably never intended on delivering such a button.”

Techdirt: Don’t Force Web Platforms To Silence Innocent People. “The U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing last week to discuss the spread of white nationalism, online and offline. The hearing tackled hard questions about how online platforms respond to extremism online and what role, if any, lawmakers should play. The desire for more aggressive moderation policies in the face of horrifying crimes is understandable, particularly in the wake of the recent massacre in New Zealand. But unfortunately, looking to Silicon Valley to be the speech police may do more harm than good.” Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!