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The New York Times – Without the support of social platforms, our efforts to stamp out viral misinformation feel futile. “…Websites spreading health hoaxes on Facebook peaked at an estimated 460 million views on the platform in April 2020, according to the report, just as the virus was spreading around the world and overwhelming hospitals in New York City. Facebook claims to assess and add warning labels to factually incorrect posts; but in a subset of posts analyzed by Avaaz, only 16 percent of those containing health misinformation had a warning label. Facebook’s algorithm rewards and encourages engagement with content that provokes strong emotions, which is exactly the kind of content we warn patients to doubt and carefully assess, since false information is often packaged as novel and sensational. The report’s title calls Facebook’s algorithm “A Major Threat to Public Health” — something our clinical and research experiences amply confirm. Public health organizations have been unable to keep up with the deluge of sophisticated medical myths and pseudoscience shared on Facebook. Despite the efforts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, content from the top 10 health misinformation sites received four times as many Facebook views as content from the C.D.C., W.H.O. and eight other leading health institutions during April 2020…”
Replication: Why We Still Can’t Browse in Peace: On the Uniqueness and Reidentifiability of Web Browsing Histories
Replication: Why We Still Can’t Browse in Peace: On the Uniqueness and Reidentifiability of Web Browsing Histories. Sarah Bird, Ilana Segall, Martin Lopatka – Mozilla. This paper is included in the Proceedings of the Sixteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security.August 10–11, 2020978-1-939133-16-8. “Abstract – We examine the threat to individuals’ privacy based on the feasibility of reidentifying users through distinctive profiles of their browsing history visible to websites and third par-ties. This work replicates and extends the 2012 paper Why Johnny Can’t Browse in Peace: On the Uniqueness of Web Browsing History Patterns. The original work demonstrated that browsing profiles are highly distinctive and stable.We reproduce those results and extend the original work to detail the privacy risk posed by the aggregation of browsing histories. Our dataset consists of two weeks of browsing data from ~52,000 Firefox users. Our work replicates the original paper’s core findings by identifying 48,919 distinct browsing profiles, of which 99% are unique. High uniqueness hold seven when histories are truncated to just 100 top sites. Wethen find that for users who visited 50 or more distinct do-mains in the two-week data collection period, ~50% can be reidentified using the top 10k sites. Reidentifiability rose to over 80% for users that browsed 150 or more distinct domains.Finally, we observe numerous third parties pervasive enough to gather web histories sufficient to leverage browsing history as an identifier.
Gizmodo – One of Portland’s most beloved bookworm attractions, Powell’s Books, will stop selling books on Amazon this weekend, Aug. 29, Oregon Live reports. Aug. 29 is also Independent Bookstore Day. Fitting, no? CEO Emily Powell released a statement to customers yesterday announcing the move, citing concerns over the future survival of independent bookstores. “So many independent booksellers around the country fight for their survival and wonder what their future may hold,” Powell wrote. “For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world…”
Via LLRX – Mining Data on the Internet 2020 – Data mining is a constantly evolving discipline applied in many fields including finance, law, healthcare, marketing, science and engineering, the retail industry, telecommunications, social media, and government. This guide by Marcus P. Zillman encompasses free, fee based and consultancy related sources to assist info pros, researchers, data analysts, knowledge managers and CI/BI experts to effectively identify, analyze and apply reliable, value added data within the scope of their respective work products.
“Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Special Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), and U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) released a comprehensive report on the climate crisis titled The Case for Climate Action: Building a Clean Economy for the American People. The new report – which comes after dozens of hearings, meetings, and input from experts, labor unions, mayors, environmental justice leaders, and native communities, among others – details how bold climate action from Congress can create millions of new jobs, grow the American economy, and improve people’s lives across the country..”
The New York Times – Capacity issues at the two largest printing companies are among the factors creating havoc for authors and publishers.”…The two largest printing companies in the United States, Quad and LSC Communications, have been under intense financial strain, a situation that has grown worse during the pandemic. LSC declared bankruptcy in April, and the company’s sales fell nearly 40 percent in the fiscal quarter that ended June 30, a drop that the company attributed partly to the closure of retailers during the pandemic and the steep fall of educational book sales. In September, LSC’s assets will be put up for auction. Quad’s book printing business is also up for sale; this spring, the company had to temporarily shut down its printers at three plants due to the pandemic. At the same time, there has been a surprising spike in sales for print books, a development that would normally be cause for celebration, but is now forcing publishers to scramble to meet surging demand. Unit sales of print books are up more than 5 percent over last year, and sales have accelerated over the summer. From early June to mid-August, print sales were up more than 12 percent over the previous 10 weeks, according to NPD BookScan. The surge has been driven by several new blockbuster titles, including books by Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, John Bolton and Mary Trump. Publishers have also seen an unexpected demand for older titles, particularly books about race and racism, children’s educational workbooks and fiction…”
Medium OneZero – Editor’s Note: “Surveillance capitalism is everywhere. But it’s not the result of some wrong turn or a rogue abuse of corporate power — it’s the system working as intended. This is the subject of Cory Doctorow’s new book, which we’re thrilled to publish in whole here on OneZero. This is how to destroy surveillance capitalism…”
Washington Post – “The Halo is a $100 wrist-worn device that, among other functions, listens to your conversations so you can understand how you sound to others. And it comes with a companion app that scans your body three-dimensionally to track your progress gaining your “quarantine 15. Amazon is upfront about Halo’s invasive functions, which require users to opt in. What’s revealing is that one of tech’s biggest companies thinks consumers in 2020 might want them. The Halo Band feels one second away from artificial intelligence saying, ‘Hey girl, why don’t you smile a little more?’”…
New York City, San Francisco, Honolulu are still down over 80% from a year ago in terms of “seated diners.” Then there is the “LN-shaped” recovery in Pittsburgh. By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET – “Six months into the Pandemic, restaurants that haven’t given up yet are still in survival mode. In many places, dining outside has been allowed for weeks or months. That’s a problem for restaurants that don’t have any space outside. In other places, indoor dining is allowed, but only at reduced capacity, which is a killer in the tough restaurant business. One restaurant owner who is doing fairly well – he has a corner restaurant in San Francisco with wide sidewalks on both sides, and all his tables fit outside – told me that a sushi chef he knows with a tiny sushi place that seats only a few people switched to takeout, and suddenly there were no more limits to how many people he could feed, and his business boomed, and he hired another sushi chef to keep up. There are a few winners. Those that manage to be open and have enough room outside are busy and hard to get into. Others restaurants gave up. Inside dining at restaurants in California can start on Monday, but only at 25% or 50% of capacity, depending on county. No restaurant can survive for long operating on Friday and Saturday nights at 25% or 50% capacity.”
Fast Company – “Millions of Americans, far more than ever before, will cast their ballots by mail in the November election. For many it’ll be a first. Given that, and the huge stakes of this election, there’s plenty of worry to go around over whether all those mail-in ballots will find their way to being counted. Those fears were stoked anew last week when NPR’s Pam Fessler and Elena Moore reported that more than 550,000 ballots were rejected during this year’s primary elections—far more than the 318,728 mail-in ballots rejected in 2016’s general election, which had far more turnout. The rules around requesting and casting an absentee ballot vary somewhat between counties and states. (You can find instructions and rules for your state here.) These relate to whether or not the voter needs an “excuse” to vote absentee, how an absentee ballot can be requested, and the windows in which ballots can be requested and submitted…”
Via Reddit / Data is Beautiful – How representative are the representatives? The demographics of the U.S. Congress, broken down by party in comparison with the US population. Enlarge this graphic for a clearer view. View the author’s citations
- Banks and Lender Complaints – Learn how to complain about a problem with a bank or a lending company, such as a mortgage provider.
- Car Complaints – Find out what to do when you want to complain about a defective car.
- Housing-Related Complaints – Find out what to do if you have one of these complaints when buying or renting a home.
- Phone and TV Complaints – Learn what to do when you want to complain about a phone, cable, or satellite television company.
- Travel Complaints – Find out how to file a complaint about an airline, travel agency, hotel, or U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- U.S. Postal Service Issues – Find answers to the most popular Post Office questions.
Deep Fakes and National Security, August 26, 2020. “Deep fakes”—a term that first emerged in 2017 to describe realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come.As these technologies continue to mature, they could hold significant implications for congressional oversight, U.S. defense authorizations and appropriations,and the regulation of social media platforms…”
Lifehacker – “…You have plenty of options for finding the Air Quality Index for any particular location. Established weather services like Weather.com should have that number for any location you want. I’ve always been a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency’s PurpleAir, specifically, which gives you a lovely, large map full of dots to show how well you’ll be able to breathe today. You can switch between all kinds of different measurements, including the plain ol’ temperature, as well as different views (normal, satellite, topographic, and dark) and measurement averages (ranging from 10 minutes to a week, as well as real-time data)…”
“Semantic Scholar is a free, AI-powered search and discovery tool that helps researchers discover and understand scientific literature that’s most relevant to their work. Semantic Scholar uses machine learning techniques to extract meaning and identify connections from within papers, then surfaces these insights to help scholars gain an in-depth understanding quickly. Our mission is to empower scholars to save time, make informed decisions that lead to new discoveries so they may have a greater impact in their field. If you’re a new user, check out our 101 tutorial videos to get started.”
The New York Times – The Privacy Project: “By making a few simple changes to your devices and accounts, you can maintain security against outside parties’ unwanted attempts to access your data as well as protect your privacy from those you don’t consent to sharing your information with. Getting started is easy. Here’s a guide to the few simple changes you can make to protect yourself and your information online….” [h/t Pete Weiss]
TIME – We Have Enough Evidence, Now It Is Time to Act: “…When it comes to COVID-19, the evidence overwhelmingly supports aerosol transmission, and there are no strong arguments against it. For example, contact tracing has found that much COVID-19 transmission occurs in close proximity, but that many people who share the same home with an infected person do not get the disease. To understand why, it is useful to use cigarette or vaping smoke (which is also an aerosol) as an analog. Imagine sharing a home with a smoker: if you stood close to the smoker while talking, you would inhale a great deal of smoke. Replace the smoke with virus-containing aerosols, which behave very similarly, and the impact is similar: the closer you are to someone releasing virus-carrying aerosols, the more likely you are to breathe in larger amounts of virus. We know from detailed, rigorous studies that when individuals talk in close proximity, aerosols dominate transmission and droplets are nearly negligible…”
AP: “Google’s own engineers were troubled by the way the company secretly tracked the movements of people who didn’t want to be followed until a 2018 Associated Press investigation uncovered the shadowy surveillance, according to unsealed documents in a consumer fraud case. The behind-the-scenes peek stems from a three-month-old lawsuit against Google filed by Arizona’s attorney general. The files, unsealed late last week, reveal that Google knew it had a massive problem on its hands after an AP article published in August 2018 explained how the company continued to track users’ whereabouts even after they had disabled the feature Google called “location history.” The released documents include internal Google emails and a fresh version of the state’s civil complaint with fewer redactions than the original…”
Penn State – via Pete Weiss: “This web site aims to supply teachers, students, and citizens with the raw materials necessary to sustain their own investigations of the civil rights movement: Here you will find primary materials, background information, and research assistance related to individual speeches or songs or documents or images associated with the African American Freedom Struggle, especially from 1955 to 1972…”