Washington Post: It’s time to end the secrecy and opacity of social media. “The time has come to end the opacity and secrecy surrounding social media. If social media platforms are truly committed to being the productive, responsible and ethical force in society they have the potential to be, there are crucial steps they must take. Before anything else, we need far more transparency of the outputs produced by these algorithms so we can create an effective accountability mechanism. Data that social media companies currently share with researchers and other interested parties is inadequate, inconsistent and entirely at each company’s discretion. The recent steps by Twitter and Facebook to improve transparency certainly move in the right direction, but they do not go far enough. We are in urgent need of a broader strategy to address these challenges.”
New York Times: How to Fix Facebook? We Asked 9 Experts. “… criticism of Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is easy to come by; solutions aren’t as clear. We asked nine technologists, academics, politicians and journalists to propose the steps they would take to improve Facebook — as a product, a company or both. Their responses, edited slightly for length and clarity, are below.” Normally a big Kevin Kelly fan but really disappointed in his answer here.
I did have a mention here about a WordPress 4.9 release candidate being available, but I need to update that: WordPress 4.8.3 is now available, and as it’s a security update you should get patchin’. “WordPress versions 4.8.2 and earlier are affected by an issue where $wpdb->prepare() can create unexpected and unsafe queries leading to potential SQL injection (SQLi). WordPress core is not directly vulnerable to this issue, but we’ve added hardening to prevent plugins and themes from accidentally causing a vulnerability.”
Gizmodo: How to Watch Facebook, Google, and Twitter Testify Before Congress This Week. “Three of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies will speak to three different congressional subcommittees on Tuesday and Wednesday to finally get to the bottom of, well, a lot of issues. Top priority is to discuss Russia’s use of online ads and social media to influence the 2016 US election. Here’s how you can watch it all live, no cable required.” Two sessions today.
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: UAMS receives $8.3 million grant to expand digital archive for cancer research. “The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) will use an $8.3 million grant to expand and enhance an archive of freely accessible cancer medical images and data. On Tuesday (Oct. 31), UAMS announced it received the grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA) is a free online service with a large collection of cancer-related medical images the public can download. All patient identifying information has been removed from the images, and data from the archive has been used for nearly 500 academic papers.”
The Daily Beast: Russian Trolls Tried to Start a Black ‘War on Christmas’. “A website hosted by Russia’s ‘troll farm’ in St. Petersburg attempted to push an African-American boycott of Christmas with articles and a line of typo-ridden merchandise last year. BlackMattersUS, which independent Russian media outlet RBC identified as one of the most influential websites and troll accounts operated out of the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, pushed T-shirts imploring its users to ‘Say no! To ho-ho-ho,’ alongside a picture of a candy cane.”
Phys.org: Social media data use needs tighter research controls, experts say . “Information shared on social media is being regularly used in research projects without users’ consent, a study suggests. Experts have called for tighter control of the practice, with fresh guidelines needed to ensure personal data is being used appropriately. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say ethics frameworks around consent, privacy and ownership for such studies are not keeping pace with technological developments.”
BBC News: What a Facebook experiment did to news in Cambodia. “Until recently, video blogger Catherine Harry was a Facebook success story in Cambodia. Her page, A Dose of Cath, featured a series of outspoken first person videos on taboo topics like virginity and menstruation that never got airtime on TV. Then, on 19 October, Facebook tweaked its News Feed in Cambodia and five other small countries. Instead of seeing posts from Facebook pages in their general News Feed, users in the test had to go to a new section called Explore Feed to see the content. And so when Ms Harry posted a new video on Facebook on Saturday, just 2,000 of her fans saw it in the first hour, compared to about 12,000 who normally watched.”
The Verge: Instagram is testing a stop-motion camera for Stories. “Days after releasing its Superzoom creative tool into the wild, Instagram is testing another new tool to join it. Stop Motion is a camera tool that lets you take a long series of photos, which Instagram stitches up into a GIF that you can post in your story. Instagram confirmed it is testing the feature, which The Verge noticed as a new option inside the Story camera.”
New York Times: Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals. “Call it a classic case of supply meeting demand. Universities, colleges, even community colleges insist that faculty publish scholarly research, and the more papers the better. Academics and the schools they teach at rely on these publications to bolster their reputations, and with an oversupply of Ph.D.’s vying for jobs, careers hang in the balance.”
The Register: Say what? Another reCaptcha attack, now against audio challenges. “Whatever Google has in mind to replace its reCaptcha had better be ready soon: another research group has found a way to defeat it. Late last week, researchers from startup Vicarious demonstrated their attack against reCaptcha’s image-based ‘I’m not a robot’ proof. Now University of Maryland boffins have busted Google’s audio accessibility feature.”
Bloomberg Quint: Google Plots Grassroots Path Into China Through AI, Investments. “A more active Google in China does not guarantee a profitable Google in China. The company’s primary mechanism for cashing in on its AI tools, its cloud-computing business, can’t be accessed by developers in China without overseas servers or technical tricks to work around the country’s Great Firewall, laws and technology that control the domestic internet and block some foreign websites. Google also faces stiff homegrown competition, mainly from search nemesis Baidu Inc., in the race to create the most popular foundational tools for inventions like voice-controlled speakers and self-driving cars. Still, Google is clearly interested in re-igniting its business in China.”
TechCrunch: AT&T and Tech Mahindra launch open source AI project. “While its name still implies a focus on the Linux kernel, the Linux Foundation has long become a service organization that helps other open source groups run their own foundations and projects (think Cloud Foundry, the Cloud Native Compute Foundation, the Node.js Foundation, etc.). Today, the group is adding a new project to its stable: the Acumos project, which was started by AT&T and the Indian outsourcing and consulting firm Tech Mahindra, is now hosted by the Linux Foundation.”
GW Hatchet: Faculty use social media to generate online hype for research projects. “When researchers look to generate buzz for their latest project or to collect data for their next study, they are increasingly turning to social media. At a time when [George Washington University] is striving to expand its research reputation across the globe and faculty are forced to vie for increasingly competitive federal grants, experts and faculty said publicizing projects on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is crucial to gain wide recognition and reach a broader audience.”
BBC News: YouTube tweaks advertising algorithm. “YouTube is tweaking the way it chooses which videos will have adverts shown with them. The update comes after YouTube made changes to the way videos were monetised, to stop ads appearing alongside extremist content. The changes prompted complaints from some popular vloggers, saying it made it hard for them to earn money. The improved algorithm should mean more videos were classified as suitable for ads, YouTube said.”