Cherwell: Oxford study finds social media manipulation in all 81 countries surveyed. “A report published by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has found evidence of organised social media manipulation campaigns in all 81 countries surveyed in 2020, a 15% increase compared to last year’s report. The study points to the rising influence of ‘cyber troops’. This refers to social media accounts that spread doctored images, use data-driven strategies to target specific sections of the population, troll political opponents, and mass-report opponents’ content so that it is reported as spam. These accounts can be either automated or human.”
Down to Earth: New database shows how large rivers form the basis of global borders. “Rivers have historically provided humans with fresh water, fertile land and food and have, thus, formed the bedrock of several civilisations. A new database, however, quantified how rivers were used to divide land and form international, national and local borders. Rivers make up 23 per cent of international borders, 17 per cent of the world’s state and provincial borders and 12 per cent of all county-level local borders, according to the Global Subnational River-Borders database.” The dataset is available here.
Jerusalem Post: New website acts as database of coronavirus rules in 84 countries. “Developed by David Tabznikov, an Israeli ‘digital nomad’ currently based in Serbia, the website will allow users to see the policies of each country; whether its borders are fully or partially open, and if mandatory self-isolation rule is required as well as where that self-isolation should take place. In addition, municipal or regional restrictions within countries can also examined by users, which may include the status of public transportation in the area and police roadblocks.”
Another late December good thing I missed from Big Think: You can now drag and drop whole countries to compare their size. “Is Texas really bigger than Poland? Does Russia stretch further east to west than Africa does north to south? And how big a chunk of Europe would the U.S. cover? If you’re losing sleep over questions like these, you’ll find relief at… a web tool designed to provide answers about the relative sizes of countries (and U.S. states).”
MakeUseOf: 7 Helpful Websites for Learning About the Countries of the World. “Though the world holds nearly 200 countries, most of us haven’t visited more than a few. Knowledge of our home nation comes easy, but have you ever wondered about the culture, society, or history of other countries? We’ve gathered a set of websites for learning about any country you have interest in.”
Mashable: Facebook has 200 new flag frames and is still way behind Snapchat. “Facebook just added almost 200 national flags to its Profile Frames feature, giving users an extra chance share their national pride with all their friends—or just make everyone quickly scrolling through their feeds double-check if their phone screen has a smudge when the flags fly past.”
Good stuff from Network World: Which countries have open-source laws on the books? “… it’s become increasingly common over the past decade or so to see laws being passed to either mandate the use of open-source software or, at the very least, encourage people in government who make procurement decisions to do so. Here’s a map of the status of open-source laws around the world, via the magic of Google Fusion Tables.”
Wow: Google Maps apparently changes country borders depending on who’s looking at it. “Author Ethan R. Merel points out that ‘if a border is disputed by two or more states, the border as seen on Google’s services will adhere to the beliefs of Country A when accessed from within that country, while simultaneously adhering to the beliefs of Country B when accessed on its local servers.’”