HPC Related Headlines

In Wake of Russia Probe, Twitter Is Launching an Ad Transparency Center

NBC News
Date: 2017-11-24

Twitter will provide more information about political advertisements, including who is paying for them and why they're being targeted to a specific user, the company announced on Tuesday. A new arm called the Advertising Transparency Center will provide Twitter users with more information about the advertisements they're seeing and tools to provide feedback. The move marks the most aggressive public approach yet for Twitter as it, Facebook and Google are being asked tough questions about the role their platforms played in influencing the 2016 election. "In the coming weeks, we will launch an industry-leading transparency center that will offer everyone visibility into who is advertising on Twitter, details behind those ads and tools to share your feedback with us," Bruce Falck, Twitter's general manager of revenue product and engineering, wrote in a blog post. Political advertisements will have a uniform look. Twitter will also disclose who paid for the advertisements, how much they've spent and the demographics they are targeting.

How Social Media Have Changed the Ways We Shame

Houston Chronicle
Date: 2017-11-09

The word “shameless” is being tossed around an awful lot these days, which might speak to what many see as the country’s increasingly coarse, vitriolic political discourse. Perhaps, the thinking goes, American culture could use a dose of shame and humility. But what about people harassed on social media, like Walter Palmer, the dentist who hunted and killed Cecil the lion? Sure, he might have exercised poor judgment. But was it poor enough that he deserved to have his wife and daughter not only shamed but threatened? As I point out in my recent book “Shame: A Brief History,” the use of shame in American society has a clear historical arc. But the role played by this emotion – which people feel when they’ve violated group standards – has also been complicated by several recent changes to the country’s legal, political and media ecosystems. These shifts raise questions about how this powerful but unpleasant emotion should be handled in contemporary America.

Study Finds Fringe Communities on Reddit and 4chan Have High Influence on Flow of Alternative News to Twitter

Date: 2017-11-02

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cyprus University of Technology, University College London and Telefonica Research have conducted the first large-scale measurement of how mainstream and alternative news flows through multiple social media platforms. After analyzing millions of posts containing mainstream and alternative news shared on Twitter, Reddit and 4chan, Jeremy Blackburn, Ph.D., and collaborators found that alt-right communities within 4chan, an image-based discussion forum where users are anonymous, and Reddit, a social news aggregator where users vote up or down on posts, have a surprisingly large influence on Twitter.

New Simulation Technology to Predict Refugee Destinations Could Improve Aid Efforts

Date: 2017-10-20

A computer simulation of refugees' journeys as they flee major conflicts can correctly predict more than 75% of their destinations, and may become a vital tool for governments and NGOs to help better allocate humanitarian resources. Researchers at Brunel University London, Diana Suleimenova, Dr David Bell and Dr Derek Groen from the Department of Computer Science, used publicly available refugee, conflict and geospatial data to construct simulations of refugee movements and their potential destinations for African countries. The data-driven simulation tool consistently managed to predict at least 75% of refugee destinations correctly after the first 12 days for three different recent African conflicts. It also out-performed alternative existing forecasting techniques ('naïve predictions') to predict where, when and how many refugees are likely to arrive, and which camps are likely to become full. They reported their results in Scientific Reports.

Too Much Social Media During a Disaster Might Harm your Mental Health

Date: 2017-10-18

Survivors of three recent disasters — the northern California fires, the Las Vegas mass shooting, and Hurricane Maria — used social media and texting as lifelines to connect with loved ones, seek aid, and search for the latest developments. A new study, however, suggests that people who get updates during a major crisis from unofficial channels like random social media accounts are most exposed to conflicting information and experience the most psychological distress. The study, published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 3,890 students whose campus was locked down after a shooter fired on people. Since it's difficult, if not impossible, to begin a scientific study during a life-threatening disaster or crisis, the researchers asked students about their experience a week after the incident and analyzed five hours of Twitter data about the shooting.

How Excessive Social Media Use During a Disaster Could Harm Your Mental Health

Date: 2017-10-18

Survivors of three recent disasters — the northern California fires, the Las Vegas mass shooting, and Hurricane Maria — used social media and texting as lifelines to connect with loved ones, seek aid, and search for the latest developments. A new study, however, suggests that people who get updates during a major crisis from unofficial channels like random social media accounts are most exposed to conflicting information and experience the most psychological distress. The study, published in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, surveyed 3,890 students whose campus was locked down after a shooter fired on people. Since it's difficult, if not impossible, to begin a scientific study during a life-threatening disaster or crisis, the researchers asked students about their experience a week after the incident and analyzed five hours of Twitter data about the shooting.

'Trial by Social Media' to be Examined as Attorney General Says Justice Must Join the 'Modern World'

The Daily Telegraph
Date: 2017-09-15

The justice system must "catch up with the modern world", the Attorney General has said, as he signaled that contempt of court laws could change to cope with the social media age. Launching a review into how posts on social networks were affecting justice, Jeremy Wright QC said that "there may be a role" for companies to do more to protect against "trial by social media". He told the Daily Telegraph: "If you go back a few years, the only people capable of reaching a wide enough audience that there was a serious risk of prejudicing a jury were established media outlets."And they, broadly speaking, knew what the 1981 Contempt of Court Act said, they knew where the line was between what you could say and what you couldn't. "Sometimes they transgressed, of course, but they at least broadly speaking as an entity, knew what the rules were. "That's not true of members of the public, who don't understand what the Contempt of Court Act says, and probably don't realize what damage their piece of social media commentary or comment might do.

Tweet Like You'll Wind Up on a Random News Site

Date: 2017-07-18

This past weekend on a beautiful Saturday morning, I sat on my couch for the better part of an hour I had planned to spend outside enjoying the sunshine glued to my phone, sniggering by myself. I had fallen into a particularly entertaining Twitter thread, and I had no intentions of crawling out. I was enjoying myself too damn much — and from the seemingly endless number of replies that were piling up, I wasn't the only one. It all started with a simple request from political and comedy writer Maura Quint: Tell me about the worst date you've ever had in 140 characters or less. Among all the hilarious, sad, and sometimes terrifying snafus that were recounted in the thousands of replies, another theme emerged: a pushback from the thread's creator and multiple participants against the tweets being shared outside of the conversation itself. The anti-aggregation tweets were more tongue-in-cheek predictions than strict usage requests, but they struck me as being particularly self-aware, even on a social media platform where irony and self-deprecation run the highest. It might be annoying that your clever story is sourced in a way you don't like, but you sign away the rights for your intellectual property the minute you tap that send button. We've all read our fair share of those listicles filled with crowdsourced horror stories, many of which are pulled directly from Twitter, Reddit, or Tumblr. The posts aren't original, but they never really try to be — and that doesn't hurt anyone, right? I got in touch with Quint to get her perspective on the thread and to ask why she and her peers were so protective of their tweets.

How Social Media is Dumbing Down Our Communication

Date: 2017-07-16

In our digital era of smartphones and social media, it seems nearly everyone suffers from communication overload. Less than 15 years ago, most netizens had just one or two email accounts, texting was tedious and costly, and mobile phones were primarily used to make, well, phone calls. Today, it’s common for people to manage numerous social media accounts and email addresses. One recent estimate claimed the average internet user has seven social media accounts — excluding email. Chunky mobile phones have been replaced by pocket touchscreen computers that constantly jingle and buzz notifications, pulling their owners away from face-to-face encounters with other human beings into a constantly churning social networking vortex. Experts who look into such things say that while social networking has its benefits — professionally, personally, politically — it’s also dumbing down the ways people communicate with each other. Having so many channels of communication has overwhelmed our ability to thoughtfully interact online, encouraging cheap and easy forms of communication.

Social Media, Messaging Rules to Tame Chaos

Daily Nation
Date: 2017-07-05

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has drafted guidelines which will restrict the use of social media on political messaging before and after the August 8 elections to avoid instability in the country. The guidelines released by the commission chair Francis Kaparo, seek to prevent the transmission of undesirable political content using text messages and social media posts. Coming at a time of heightened political activity in the country ahead of next month’s polls, the guidelines also bar political messages that are offensive, abusive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene or profane language. Mobile phone operators have been given the power to stop circulation of the messages deemed to be inflammatory.

Social Media, Cloud Services Save the Day in Cyberattack

York Dispatch
Date: 2017-07-05

When departure information disappeared from Kiev airport’s website after last week’s cyberattack, employees trained a camera on the departure board and broadcast it to YouTube. When government servers were switched off, officials posted updates to Facebook. And with the disruption continuing, office workers have turned to Gmail to keep their businesses going. As Ukraine’s digital infrastructure shuddered under the weight of last Tuesday’s cyberattack, Silicon Valley firms played an outsize role in keeping information flowing, an illustration both of their vast reach and their unofficial role as a kind of emergency backup system. Google’s mail service has been keeping the lights on at some firms after their email servers down, while Facebook is credited as a critical platform for digital first responders.

The Dangers of Blaming Social Media for America's Problems

Date: 2017-06-30

It's dangerous to pin all of our country's problems on social media. From both ends of the polarized political spectrum, "there's a tendency to blame social media" for a degradation of the public discourse, "when social media really is just reflecting larger trends in society," author Emily Parker told Brian Stelter in this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast. "We are providing the content." Parker, a fellow at New America and the author of "Now I Know Who My Comrades Are," wrote a column for Slate published on Wednesday titled "Social Media Is Not Destroying America," in which she teases out the dangers of taking "techno-pessimism" too far. "Yes, the Internet has serious downsides, among them a broken social media culture," she said in her column. "But while it's important to point out the dangers of technology, excessive pessimism has its own risks. Policymakers could point to fake news to justify censorship."

Chasing Social Media Shares Harms Public Trust in Science - So Stop It

The Guardian
Date: 2017-06-28

Last month US TV channel CNBC published an online news story based on a study which it said showed that Instagram is “most likely to cause young people to feel depressed and lonely” out of the major social apps. But the “study” is actually a survey which fails to provide substantive evidence that Instagram is the worst for mental health, or that there is even a relationship between social media use and depression or loneliness. It was another enticing - but misleading - headline. Over the next days the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), which published the report in conjunction with the Young Health Movement charity, retweeted and shared news stories like CNBC’s. The society’s report was featured by most national media outlets, and although some pointed out that it was based on a survey, others presented it in a way that could be construed as scientific research. In any case, most included a statement about Instagram being damaging to mental health in the title in a way that made the findings appear more conclusive than the report suggests.

How Social Media Is Polarizing Your Audience (And What To Do About It)

Date: 2017-06-22

It would be nice if interactions on social media were consistent, predictable, and in regular intervals, but sadly, that’s not the case. The social media world isn’t wholly unpredictable, but the sheer number of variables associated with your followers’ habits and behaviors makes the equation extraordinarily complex. Over the course of the past decade, social media audiences have undergone a kind of evolution, in multiple areas, driven by increasing familiarity with social media, bigger audience sizes, the manifestation of personal habits, and of course, changes to the social media platforms themselves.

Will Social Media Kill the Novel?

The Guardian
Date: 2017-06-17

The day was always coming when science fiction would seem like nostalgia. It wasn’t that everything became true but that everything became fake. Who knew, when reading William Gibson in the simple 1980s, or old paperbacks of Frank Herbert, that these writers were common realists, no less faithful than Charles Dickens to life’s essential changes. I still remember the ritual of turning off the TV at the end of the night when I was a child. There was always a scramble to do it, because the Queen was on and everybody hated the Queen. No remote control, so you had to go over and press the button – and there it was, the final exhalation of static as the mounted Queen hyperspaced into a single white dot. It meant the world was now at a distance, a veil of finality descended over Britain, unless you could read novels under the covers with a torch. I grew up that way, between the TV and the library book, and it described a perfect circle of private experience. Robert Louis Stevenson might have been spying on us in a moral sense, and so might our Catholic God – “only He knows what’s inside your heart,” Father McLaughlin told me – but we persisted in feeling that privacy was a personal possession and a first principle.

Meet Binky, The Social Media App Where Nothing Matters

Date: 2017-06-14

Do you ever feel like social media apps are a waste of time? A new app called Binky sets out to prove that point. Open Binky and you'll find an infinite list of random stuff: Llamas. Hot sauce. Joan of Arc. Much like Twitter, Binky displays posts on a timeline. Unlike Twitter, nothing you do matters. See an image you like? Swipe right! See an image that makes you sad? Swipe left! Do you relate to that photo of Amelia Earhart on a deep spiritual level and feel that you must, must share it? Re-bink that! Do it! Interacting with a Binky post does nothing. It is a false action. There is no record of it. Your friends will never know that you commented "wha-aaa-aaa-aaat that is so cool #bffs #badidea #drunkhungryandsad" on a picture of René Descartes, the French philosopher.

Social media is as Harmful as Alcohol and Drugs for Millennials

The Conversation
Date: 2017-06-12

The word “addiction” brings to mind alcohol and drugs. Yet, over the past 20 years, a new type of addiction has emerged: addiction to social media. It may not cause physical harms, such as those caused by tobacco and alcohol, but it has the potential to cause long-term damage to our emotions, behaviour and relationships. While the older generation – those born in the baby boom period shortly after World War II – had alcohol and drugs as their vice, the younger generation – the so-called millenials – have social media as theirs. The millennials, born between 1984 and 2005, have embraced the digital age, using technology to relax and interact with others. Social media is a big deal for them; it is a lifeline to the outside world.

Anatomy of a Social Media 'Troll'

Chicago Tribune
Date: 2017-06-11

Jon Timowski has been described as a social media "troll." In internet slang, a troll is a person who stirs the pot by purposely starting arguments, angering social media users, or posting inflammatory comments solely to provoke an emotional reaction from others. "How do I respond to being called a troll? I really don't," said Timowski, 40, of Lowell. "It is and has been very typical, and telling, for the left to lash out to name calling." Though he disregards such disparaging labels from his critics, Timowski views our polarized country as left versus right, liberals versus conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans. In his personal world, "snowflakes" have nothing to do with winter storms and everything to do with political storms.

It's Time to Get Serious About Editing Tweets

Date: 2017-06-03

And thus he spoke: Covfefe. It’s an embarrassing Twitter mistake, especially for a sitting President. Donald Trump’s solution, after waking up and discovering he left this bizarre remark in the ether, was, ultimately, to delete the tweet. I bet he wished, like many of us on Twitter, that he could simply edit Tweets. I could point Trump to Facebook. It’s not really his social medium platform of choice, but it does let you endlessly edit posts and doesn’t really sweat the details too much. It notes that a post was edited, but that’s it. In truth, Facebook’s posts are generally not news makers (especially since most of them are private), sorry Mark Zuckerberg, and I’m not sure anyone cares that much about an edited Facebook post. But we obsess about it on Twitter.

Should Facebook Simply Stop Moderating Its Platform?

Date: 2017-05-31

As fresh Guardian disclosures about Facebook’s moderation policies continue to trickle out, it has become ever more clear that the company's attempt to create a single universal standard for online speech that applies to the entire planet is failing. Far from the finely manicured walled garden it touts to the world, Facebook has become an overgrown backlot backing up to a dark forest filled with unspeakable horrors of hate speech, misogyny, racism, terrorism recruiting, suicide and even murder. Does Facebook stand a chance at turning the tide against criminal and toxic use of its platform or should it simply abandon moderation entirely and instead adopt the model that has served the open web for the past quarter century?

Instagram Ranked Worst for Young People’s Mental Health

NBC News
Date: 2017-05-22

A new study says that Instagram is the worst social media network for young people's mental health, according to a new report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the U.K. And Snapchat is the second worst. "FOMO" — aka the fear of missing out — may not be listed in the American Psychiatric Association's manual of mental disorders, but users who spent more than two hours a day on social media are more likely to report poor mental health and symptoms of anxiety and depression, says the study. Seeing endless pictures of friends on fun outings can also promote a "compare and despair" attitude among users, the report said.

Tackling Abuse on Social Media is a Monumental Task

The Telegraph
Date: 2017-03-15

Much of the activity which makes up our lives online is conducted in public. The giant social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Youtube – are all to some extent designed around similar principles; they thrive on open, instant, global participation. The processes of signing up, posting and finding or creating communities to communicate with have been made as smooth as possible. This approach has promoted an explosion in communication, and created a colourful array of special interest channels, groups and hashtags, allowing people to discuss things they care about.

Using Social Media, Carter Center Maps Syria Conflict

Voice of America
Date: 2017-03-14

It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war. It is evident in Syria, where many journalists have been killed while others have been forced --- or frightened -- out of the country. But, reliable information is available, hiding in plain sight, as discovered by an enterprising intern at former President Jimmy Carter's non-profit Carter Center.

How Using Social Media Could Minimize Adverse Effects From Medicine

Date: 2017-03-10

Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) are the 4th leading cause of death in America. More people die from adverse effects from medicine than from pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents, and automobile deaths. People get sick or die because they mix the wrong combination of prescription drugs plus add over-the-counter remedies. According to the Federal Drug Administration, ADRs are the result of the increasing number of drugs that are available, the volume of drugs that are prescribed overall and multiple medications that are being prescribed to the same person.

Floods and hurricanes predicted with social media

Science Daily
Date: 2017-03-10

Social media can warn us about hurricanes, storms and floods before they happen, according to new research. Key words and photos on social media can signal developing risks – like water levels rising before a flood, say investigators. Found certain words – such as river, water and landscape - take on distinct meaning of forecast and warning during time periods leading to extreme weather events. Words can be used as ‘social sensors’, to create accurate early warning system for extreme weather, alongside physical sensors, the researchers conclude.

SocialRank Realtime Helps Marketers Get More Proactive on Social Media

Date: 2017-02-22

SocialRank co-founder Alex Taub classifies most brand interactions on social media into two broad categories. They’re either broadcasting to all of their followers or, if they’re communicating individually, it’s usually in a reactive way, like responding to a complaint. With the just-launched SocialRank Realtime, Taub and his team are trying to enable something different. So instead of just looking for complaints or comments about their brand, a marketer could find relevant conversations where they can make someone happy by jumping in and offering a free product or another deal, and maybe get a little positive promotion in the process.

Social Media Spaces Out for NASA and 'Star Wars'

Date: 2017-02-17

It's an out-of-this-world kind of Friday. Social media has spend the morning focused on NASA's all-day live events leading up to a milestone launch for SpaceX on Saturday. There are also more rumors floating around social media about the next Star Wars film, including what might happen to Luke Skywalker. Social Cues is our look at what is trending across Facebook and Twitter. Here's what people are talking about this Friday: #NASASocial: NASA is hosting live events throughout the day to show off the science and technology behind Saturday's launch of SpaceX's 10th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The events include a Q&A from Kennedy Space Center director Robert Cabana and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. The launch is set for Saturday at about 7:01 a.m. PT/10:01 a.m. ET from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. #NASASocial is trending on Twitter as people interact with the space agency.

Twitter is Sending Some Users to the Penalty Box

Date: 2017-02-16

Be warned boys and girls: If you act out, Twitter's going to put you in the naughty corner. For at least one week, the platform has been temporarily limiting some users' accounts for "potentially abusive behavior." As spotted by Heat Street, the timeout lasts 12 hours, and for its duration, only followers can see the user's Twitter activity. After time's up, the account is restored.

Why we Underestimate Time When We're Having Fun on Facebook

Science Daily
Date: 2017-02-07

Updating your Facebook status can be a fun way to while away the hours -- but now it seems it really is making us lose track of time as we do it. New research from psychologists at the University of Kent suggests that people who are using Facebook or surfing the web suffer impaired perception of time. Researchers from the University's School of Psychology found that the way people perceived time varied according to whether their internet use was specifically Facebook related or more general.

Why We Need Scientists on Social Media, Now More Than Ever

FC Technology
Date: 2017-02-03

Beth Linas has a reputation among her scientific colleagues for her love of social media. "Oh I'm ridiculed," she tells me, via Twitter direct message (of course). "Not by everyone, but by some old school folk." Linas, an infectious disease epidemiologist, tweets regularly about topics that she's passionate about, whether it's mobile technology or public health. During her fellowship year at the National Science Foundation, she is leveraging social media to help debunk theories that aren't scientifically validated, such as that vaccines are linked to autism, as well as improve health literacy and inspire more women to train for STEM careers. Increasingly, young scientists like Linas regard Facebook, Twitter, and blogging platforms as a key part of their day job. Not everyone is on board. Linas stresses that the ridicule from her colleagues isn't mean-spirited, but it still demonstrates some fundamental discomfort with engaging with the public. Social media is viewed by many, she says, as time spent away from more important work, like peer-reviewed research.

Disability Activists, Amplified: Social Media Gets the Job Done

Date: 2017-02-02

Mia Ives-Rublee is getting used to maneuvering her wheelchair through a sea of legs at protests. For Ives-Rublee, who was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease, exercising her right to protest in public is not easy. At a protest over President Donald Trump's immigration ban at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Sunday, the 32-year-old social worker-turned-activist had to hunt for curbs with ramps to even enter the building. She jockeyed for position to hold up her sign to arriving passengers that read, "All are welcome." A week earlier, Ives-Rublee was in Washington, attending the Women's March demonstration. Rolling through the crowd in a sea of knitted pink "pussyhats," Ives-Rublee said she was reminded of the many fights her mother had with school administrators to make sure she and her two siblings, who also have disabilities, were included in their community.

Twitter Data Could Improve Subway Operations During Big Events

Science Daily
Date: 2017-01-26

In a preliminary study, engineers found that as subway use swells during events that draw big crowds, so too does the number of tweets at these events. The results suggest that data from Twitter, and possibly other social media platforms, can be used to improve event planning, route scheduling, crowd regulations and other subway operations. "Social media offers a cost-effective way to obtain real-time data on monitoring subway passenger flow," says Qing He, PhD, Stephen Still Assistant Professor in Transportation Engineering and Logistics at UB, and the study's corresponding author. "Our results show that data from apps like Twitter can help public transportation officials prepare for and react to passenger surges during concerts, baseball games and other big events."

These Activists Are Using Technology to Defend Human Rights Around the World

Date: 2017-01-24

Passionate activists are using technology to make the world a safer, more equitable place — and a new video series shines a light on their powerful stories. "Internet Without Borders" is a four-part series from Jigsaw, the tech incubator at Google's parent company Alphabet, featuring interviews with activists and technologists who use digital tools to defend human rights in their countries. Jigsaw, whose mission is to look at how technology can make people safer around the world, filmed the videos at the 2016 Oslo Freedom Forum last May. There, the company sought out people who are "courageously fighting for freedom in diverse communities around the world."

WhatsApp Vulnerability Could Expose Messages to Prying Eyes, Report Claims

PC World
Date: 2017-01-20

When Facebook’s WhatsApp turned on end-end-end encryption in its messaging service last year, it was a big deal. As all eyes were glued on Apple’s fight with the FBI over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, WhatsApp took a huge step toward protecting its users’ privacy by moving to encrypt all messages and calls being sent between its apps. But a new report suggests it might not be as secure as users think.

Black Lives Matter Reimagines Safety Check to Advocate for Racial Justice

Date: 2017-01-20

A new social media tool is making it extremely and soberingly clear how racism threatens the safety of black Americans. Mark Yourself Unsafe, a web app that Black Lives Matter organizers modeled after Facebook Safety Check, allows black social media users to symbolically mark themselves "unsafe" throughout the entire United States. The tool officially launched on Jan. 17, and it serves to highlight the current threats the black community faces across the nation — from economic inequality to police violence and countless other forms of racial bias.

How Striking Kenyan Medical Workers are Using Social Media to Tell Their Stories

Date: 2017-01-08

The ongoing health workers strike in Kenya has taken a new dimension with medics adopting social networking sites to air their grievances. In the process they have forged a discussion in the new information spaces, and rallied support for their actions. Kenya’s medical workers have downed tools to demand the implementation of a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013. The unions accuse the government of breaching the agreement by passing over the healthcare workers’ payroll onto county governments without establishing the relevant legal framework for the devolution of health. Additionally, healthcare funding across Kenya has been cut from a recommended 15% of the government’s budget to 2.7%. Health workers have taken to social media as a way to apply pressure on the government, and to expose the plight of medical professionals as well as the overall status of health care in Kenya.

Using Social Media, Students Aspire To Become 'Influencers'

Date: 2017-01-07

Syracuse University Professor Corey Takahashi offers his commentary on the challenge of teaching students who, instead of wanting to be writers or filmmakers, aspire to be online "influencers." And some college professors are struggling to keep up with what their students already know. Corey Takahashi teaches multimedia storytelling at Syracuse University in New York, and he says that teaching has been as much a learning experience for him as for his students.

Facebook's Latest Experiment: Helping You Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

PC World
Date: 2016-11-22

Facebook says it’s not a media company, but it just might be turning into a Wi-Fi finder service. Users of the social network’s iOS app report seeing a new feature in the More section that lets them find nearby public Wi-Fi access points. The feature does not appear to be widely available at the moment, which means this is probably something Facebook is only testing. The social network tests numerous features all the time but this one is particularly notable.

Let A Computer Guess What You’re Drawing In This High-Tech Pictionary Game

Huffington Post
Date: 2016-11-21

Have you ever wanted to play a fast-paced game of Pictionary, but don’t have any friends? Yeah, us, too. Thanks to the team at Google, there’s now Quick, Draw!, an online game where a computer guesses what you’re doodling based on prompts including “motorbike,” “houseplant,” “pizza,” “foot” and more. It’s an addicting time-waster as well as a fun way to participate in AI learning.

How Startups Can Use Data to Grow Smarter

Date: 2016-10-15

Tech investing isn’t what it used to be — even compared to six months ago. Investors are applying greater scrutiny to deals. Many wonder if the days of the mega round that produced the likes of Snapchat, Uber and Magic Leap are fading quickly. Founders are realizing they can’t favor growth over profitability, or vice-versa — both are crucial to success. There’s a reason VCs are calling for “a return to fundamentals” — they don’t want to see newly minted unicorns shrivel into unicorpses.

Rural Indian Villages Are About to Get Lifesaving Treatment Through an App

Date: 2016-10-03

Lifesaving care for people in rural India will soon come through an app. Intelehealth, founded by students at Johns Hopkins University, makes an app that lets health workers in rural communities act as a proxy for doctors who are unable to work in underserved areas themselves. India has just one doctor for every 1,700 people, and while 70% of the population is in rural areas, about 60% of the healthcare infrastructure is in cities. Health workers in remote areas are trained on very basic care -- they can't offer tests or consults on things like diabetes or asthma, according to Intelehealth founder and CEO Neha Goel.

Police Are Increasingly Using Social Media Surveillance Tools

Date: 2016-09-23

We’re approaching a level of social unrest that we haven’t seen since the days of the Civil Rights movement. That means law enforcement agencies are trying to figure out how to manage and circumvent the unrest — a lot of which has resulted from the police killings of unarmed black people — through surveillance. You may remember that, back in August, Bloomberg found out that police in Baltimore had been secretly operating “wide-area surveillance” throughout the area. Well, that’s not the only type of surveillance law enforcement agencies are using. This summer, the American Civil Liberties Union of California requested records from 63 police departments, sheriffs and district attorneys across California. Of the records they received, 40 percent of the agencies (20) used social media surveillance tools, and most of them started using them within the last year.

How Your Social Media Reputation Could Secure You a Loan

Date: 2016-09-02

Traditional banking in Africa has failed - 80% of the continent's 1.2 billion people do not have a bank account or access to formal financial services. So mobiles and web-based services are stepping in to fill the gap. But there is much more to Africa's financial services story than M-Pesa, the wildly successful mobile banking platform launched in Kenya and Tanzania in 2007. For example, Nigeria's Social Lender looks at borrowers' social media profiles to assess their creditworthiness. One of the issues lenders face is that it is near impossible to obtain adequate data about people, particularly in rural areas. So mobile and web are proving useful ways of gathering it.

Smart Sports: How the 'Internet of Things' is Revolutionising the Way We Train and Play

Date: 2016-08-30

There’s the old adage that "practice makes perfect." And while perfect is easily the loftiest goal one can have, making better use of your practice is what will see you reach your peak performance goals faster. In recent years, technological advancements within the Internet of Things have given us a slew of super-smart ways to improve the way we practice and play — to give us a competitive advantage. There are now all kinds of objects, devices, and apps that help us track our performance, monitor our progress, and enable us to improve in ways that help athletes from all walks of life meet and exceed their goals.

Florida Hurricane Threat Reveals Forecasting Challenges in Social Media Era

Date: 2016-08-26

Right now, there's a broad area of disturbed weather extending from Cuba to Hispaniola. It's a messy storm system from a meteorological perspective, lacking any cohesion and the familiar, tightly wound swirling motion we're used to seeing in mature tropical storms and hurricanes. But the tropical wave, named "Invest 99L" by the National Hurricane Center, has the potential to become a big troublemaker for Florida and other Gulf Coast states if it manages to get its act together and intensify. It has had that potential for days. However, communicating the storm's potential, while also being clear about the uncertainty involved in this forecast, has challenged the evolving weather communication ecosystem in which social media plays an outsized role.

The Monetization Promise and Pitfalls of Pokémon Go

Date: 2016-08-26

Pokémon Go has been downloaded more than 100 million times since its July debut, making it the biggest-growing mobile game ever. Naturally, the phenomenon has drawn much commentary about what this means for marketing, but I am more interested in what it teaches us about making money. It’s not easy to make money in an ecosystem from unrelated parties. In spite of all the press purporting that Pokémon Go offers local businesses unique marketing opportunities, there are, in fact, many limitations.

Social Media Highlights Sexism in Olympics Coverage

Voice of America
Date: 2016-08-21

When the U.S. women's gymnastics team was photographed laughing and talking after they blew away the competition in a qualifying round at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, an NBC announcer said, "They might as well be standing in the middle of a mall.” Commentator Al Trautwig said 24-year-old Dutch gymnast Sanne Wevers, who was writing down her score after an event, looked like she was scribbling an entry in her diary. Announcer Dan Hicks gave the credit for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu's gold medal to her husband and coach, calling him "the guy responsible." The Chicago Tribune identified bronze medal winner Corey Cogdell-Unrein in a headline as "wife of a Bears lineman," without mentioning her name or her event, trap-shooting.

Why Emojis and Stickers Are Big Business

Date: 2016-08-19

With over 45 billion messages sent a day in the US, and endless evidence that messaging is eclipsing social networking in terms of the number of monthly active users the jury is in: Messaging is the world’s new media channel. At my mobile messaging company, Snaps, we’ve identified how brands can leverage emojis and stickers to stand out in this evolving marketing channel. With over 6 billion emojis and stickers sent a day, it’s safe to say that people love visually driven communication (“emoji“ was even the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2015). Nearly half of all Instagram posts include an emoji. Of course, companies immediately jumped on the bandwagon by creating branded emojis — there are currently over 250 branded emoji keyboards in the market. Think of the branded emoji as a new ad unit but instead of clicks, branded emojis are measured by the number of peer-to-peer shares.

We Understand that Social Media Does Not Equal Social Interaction

Science Daily
Date: 2016-08-11

If you worry that people today are using social media as a crutch for a real social life, a University of Kansas study will set you at ease. Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies, found that people are actually quite adept at discerning the difference between using social media and having an honest-to-goodness social interaction. The results of his studies appear in the journal New Media & Society. "There is a tendency to equate what we do on social media as if it is social interaction, but that does not reflect people's actual experience using it," Hall said. "All of this worry that we're seeking out more and more social interaction on Facebook is not true. Most interactions are face to face, and most of what we consider social interaction is face to face."

Teenagers Regularly Using Social Media do Less Well at School, New Survey Finds

The Telegraph
Date: 2016-08-08

Children who regularly use Facebook and other online social networks tend to perform less well in school than those who use them rarely, new research has shown. A study of more than 12,000 15-year-olds found there was the equivalent of several GCSE grades difference between the reading, maths and science results of students who were heavy users of social media and those who were not. However, pupils who went online to play video games, rather than to chat, tended to perform better in schools because the activity enabled them to “apply and sharpen” problem-solving skills used in the classroom.

Here's How Social Influencers Raise Millions

Date: 2016-08-04

It was the purpose that really did it for me. It was so unique. There is nothing like it in any city, town or village that I know about. A place that sponsors children in poverty, an internet fee that fights human trafficking and where every product sold is from companies that have a social agenda. This place is the Purpose Hotel and is the brain child of Jeremy Cowart. You may know Cowart as one of the world’s most social photographers (a study we did in 2014). Cowart is using social media to raise $2 million from Kickstarter to get the project off the drafting board and into construction.

New Anti-harassment AI Program Has 90% Success Rate

Date: 2016-08-01

Yahoo has developed an AI algorithm that it says can correctly detect up to 90 percent of abusive comments online, making it outperform other "state-of-the-art" deep-learning-based algorithms, according to a report by the algorithm's developers. "While automatically detecting abusive language online is an important topic and task, the prior [abuse detection] has not been very unified, thus slowing progress ... [abuse] can have a profound impact on the civility of a community or a user’s experience," the developers wrote. The algorithm used a mix of machine learning and crowdsourced abuse detection to scan the comment sections of Yahoo News and Finance. Currently, most abusive language detectors are keyword-based systems. The problem is that abusers might avoid certain words to avoid the filters or come up with new slang. Additionally, these systems are bad at reading for context or sarcasm.

Here’s What Your Boring App Would Look Like as a Conversation

Date: 2016-07-31

In years to come, conversations will breathe new life into software — particularly the boring enterprise tools millions of knowledge workers begrudgingly use every day. Conversational user interfaces (CUIs) work because of our familiarity with messaging. Even the most technically complex interactions can look as simple as getting an SMS text when presented as a conversation. There are three benefits conversational user interfaces have over traditional software, and we believe these lessons can inform and inspire the redesign of countless online services. To illustrate the potential of conversational interfaces, we’ve reimagined what Google Analytics — one of the most widely used (and widely despised) pieces of enterprise software — could look like as a conversation.

4 Ways You Can Help Curb the Tech Industry's Child Labor Problem

Date: 2016-07-30

The device you're using to read this story may have its roots in child labor. In a society infatuated with tech, we rarely stop to think about how that tech is made. But many of the little parts that make up your favorite high-tech devices, advocates say, lead to a massive global inequality for children. Joost Kooijmans, a child labor specialist with UNICEF, says that some of the most serious child labor concerns are with the mining of raw materials that go into high-tech products. "These children are suffering life-long problems that are just astounding. And it has to stop." "There is gold inside your phone. There is cobalt inside the lithium battery. There's coltan that's used in the miniature circuitry in your phone," he tells Mashable. "These are minerals that are being mined in areas where law enforcement and government oversight is very weak — and what you find is that a lot of children end up going to work in these regions."

Twitter Helps Confirm X-Shaped Bulge at Center of Milky Way

The Huffington Post
Date: 2016-07-22

What started out as a map of the galaxy that an astronomer shared on Twitter led to a collaboration that found strong evidence of a huge X-shaped structure formed by stars at the core of the Milky Way, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dustin Lang, an astronomer at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, tweeted an image from a website he created last year using data obtained by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer space telescope, or WISE, which surveyed the entire sky in 2010. Lang’s tweet showing an image of the WISE sky was spotted by Melissa Ness of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. “Scientists on Twitter often share sneak peeks of interesting results or pretty pictures,” Lang said, according to CNN. When Ness saw Lang’s sky view on Twitter, she noticed something special about a group of stars at the center of the galaxy that form a bulge shape.

Indian Sexual assault Survivors Break Taboos by Using Snapchat Filters to Tell Their Stories

Date: 2016-07-19

Snapchat filters are popular for their funny and absurdist nature. Yet, a mobile journalism project in India has demonstrated how the app can be a powerful and unconventional storytelling tool as well. Hindustan Times mobile editor, Yusuf Omar, chose Snapchat to interview two teenage women participating in India's first Climb Against Sexual Abuse near the southern city of Mysore. The filters enabled sexual assault survivors to narrate their stories without the fear of being recognized. Instead of a traditional interview format, the two survivors spoke directly to the camera through a selfie stick. They also chose their own filters to disguise their identity as they spoke of their harrowing experiences. Both opted for a fire-breathing dragon filter. Omar says that this helped the women feel more empowered as the masking and video recording unfolded in front of their eyes.

Facebook Chat Bots Might Be the Future, but Right Now They Feel Like the Past

Digital Trends
Date: 2016-07-15

Apps are old school. Bots are the future. “Conversational UIs” will replace the web.That, in a nutshell, is the thinking behind a developer gold rush happening right now. Facebook announced bots for Messenger just three months ago, and already there are 11,000 bots hoping to reach the nearly one billion Facebook Messenger users. But are these bots worth using right now? Can talking to a script really feel like talking to a person, to the point where it becomes useful? And can such a chat conversation really be easier than just opening a website, or an app, to get something done? To find out, we tried opening some apps and comparing them to their chat bot counterparts in Facebook Messenger. Here’s what we found.

Crowdsourcing App Allows Everyone To Help Rescue Refugees From The Sea

Date: 2016-06-14

Thanks to a newly launched app, people all over the world can give a crucial contribution to charities and NGOs involved in the rescue of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. I Sea is the first crowdsourcing project of this kind and allows everyone with a smartphone to scan satellite images of a particular plot of ocean to find migrant boats in difficulty.The app, available on the Apple Store (the Android version is being tested), is a collaboration between the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and Singapore-based Grey for Good. "We wanted to bring technology in for people who have free time to watch the seas and are eager to help in the refugee crisis," Low Jun Jek, executive creative director at Grey, told Mashable. "The app captures a satellite image of the sea and slices it up into thousands of smaller plots. Each plot is then assigned to different users. They can view the plot through the app and check if they see any boat in distress."

Facebook AI Effort Looks to Extend Search Engines

Enterprise Tech
Date: 2016-06-06

Facebook is rolling out a "deep-learning based text understanding engine" that leverages neural network architectures and promises to challenge the Google search engine by bringing "near-human accuracy" to the process of sorting through the daily flood of social media posts on its web site. Facebook's AI initiative called Deep Text announced in a blog post last week also could advance the state of the art in terms of organizing the flood of unstructured text data generated by the leading social media site. The approach also seeks to expand current natural language processing (NLP) techniques that are frequently tripped up by slang. Among the early goals of the search effort is ferretting out relevant information from social media posts that would link sellers with buyers.

Instagram’s New Algorithm That Puts The Best Posts First Goes Live

Date: 2016-06-04

If you’re looking at your Instagram today, you might notice something has changed: older posts from friends and other accounts you care about are now appearing above those that were shared more recently. Yes, the new Instagram algorithm that rearranges the order of posts to show you the “best” posts first is now going live. We already knew that the company was planning to reorder our feeds. In March, Instagram announced plans to move away from showing posts in strict reverse chronological order, and instead boost those based on the “likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post,” as it explained at the time. If you think that sounds a lot like parent company Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, you’d be right. As Facebook came to understand long ago, the posts people want to see aren’t necessarily those that are the newest. They’re those that matter to you, personally.

Jim Naughtie: Social Media Ruining Political Discourse

The Telegraph
Date: 2016-06-04

The “echo chamber” of social media is ruining political discourse, by allowing people to “cocoon themselves” in a world in which they do not have to encounter opposing views, former Today programme presenter Jim Naughtie has warned. The Radio 4 host said that while social networks like Twitter had produced “many benefits”, they threatened Britain’s “diverse, open, generous culture, in which people are open to other points of view”. Speaking at the Hay Festival, sponsored by the Telegraph, Naughtie said: “There are people, who live in their own bubble, which becomes an echo chamber. And I think that’s bad for all of us, bad for politics, bad for the way we run our country, bad for public discourse, bad for a plural society.

Google DeepMind Researchers Develop AI Kill Switch

Date: 2016-06-04

Artificial intelligence doesn't have to include murderous, sentient super-intelligence to be dangerous. It's dangerous right now, albeit in generally more primitive terms. If a machine can learn based on real-world inputs and adjust its behaviors accordingly, there exists the potential for that machine to learn the wrong thing. If a machine can learn the wrong thing, it can do the wrong thing. Laurent Orseau and Stuart Armstrong, researchers at Google's DeepMind and the Future of Humanity Institute, respectively, have developed a new framework to address this in the form of "safely interruptible" artificial intelligence. In other words, their system, which is described in a paper to be presented at the 32nd Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, guarantees that a machine will not learn to resist attempts by humans to intervene in the its learning processes.

Why China Fakes 488 Million Social Media Posts a Year

Date: 2016-05-16

China’s government fabricates about 488 million social media comments a year — nearly the same as one day of Twitter’s total global volume — in a massive effort to distract its citizens from bad news and sensitive political debates, according to a study. Three scholars led by Gary King, a political scientist at Harvard University who specializes in using quantitative data to analyze public policy, ran the first systematic study of China’s online propaganda workers, known as the Fifty Cent Party because they are popularly believed to be paid by the government 50 Chinese cents for every social media post. One of every 178 social media posts on China’s micro blogs is made up by the government. Contrary to popular perception inside China, the Fifty Cent Party avoids engaging in debates with critics and doesn’t make fun of foreign governments. Instead, it mostly works to distract public attention away from hot topics by highlighting the positive, cheering the state, symbols of the regime, or the Communist Party’s revolutionary past. "In retrospect, this makes a lot of sense — stopping an argument is best done by distraction and changing the subject rather than more argument — but this had previously been unknown,” King said in an email.

Senator Charles Schumer Wants Feds to Reward Social Media Terrorism Tips

ABC News
Date: 2016-04-11

New York Sen Charles Schumer wants the government to offer rewards to people who turn in suspicious information they see online that could help thwart a terror attack. The U.s Department of State has a “Rewards for Justice” program that has paid out 125 million to over 80 people “who provided credible information that put terrorist behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide,” according to its website. As social media has morphed into a breeding ground for extremism over the past few years, Schumer said he wants those rewards to also cover future tips generated through social media.

New Facebook Tool Lets Blind People 'See' Photos

Date: 2016-04-05

"With more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook," Facebook's Shaomei Wu, Hermes Pique, and Jeffrey Wieland, said in an online post, late Monday. In an attempt to remedy this problem, Facebook is launching "automatic alternative text"; a tool that uses object recognition technology to identify and describe an image, so that visually impaired and blind people using screen readers will be able to hear—and therefore visualize—what's in a photo posted on the social network.

It Might Catch On -- First Mathematical Model to Explain How Things Go Viral

University of Aberdeen News
Date: 2016-03-26

A University of Aberdeen-led research team has developed a model that explains how things go viral in social networks, and it includes the impact of friends and acquaintances in the sudden spread of new ideas. "Mathematical models proposed in the past typically neglected the synergistic effects of acquaintances and were unable to explain explosive contagion, but we show that these effects are ultimately responsible for whether something catches on quickly," says University of Aberdeen researcher Francisco Perez-Reche. The model shows people's opposition to accepting a new idea acts as a barrier to large contagion, until the transmission of the phenomenon becomes strong enough to overcome that reluctance. Although social media makes the explosive contagion phenomenon more apparent in everyday life than ever before, it is the intrinsic value of the idea or product, and whether friends and acquaintances adopt it or not, which remains the crucial factor.

Google's Artificial Brain is Pumping Out Trippy -- and Pricey -- Art

Date: 2016-02-29

Artworks created by artificial neural networks developed by Google made their public debut at a San Francisco gallery, where they attracted high prices. Google and other online services currently use neural networks for a variety of functions such as automated image identification, speech recognition and language translation, but Google's DeepDream art "generator" represents an entirely new method the company calls "Inceptionism." DeepDream is fed an image, and the neural net probes it for familiar patterns, enhances them and then repeats the process for the same image. "This creates a feedback loop: if a cloud looks a little bit like a bird, the network will make it look more like a bird," Google says in a blog post.

Social Media News Consumers at Higher Risk of 'Information Bubbles,' IU Study Says

IU Bloomington Newsroom
Date: 2015-12-14

An Indiana University (IU) study suggests people who seek out news and information from social media are at a higher risk of becoming trapped in a "collective social bubble" compared to those who get their news and information from search engines. The study is based on a method the IU researchers developed that devises a score based on the distribution of news stories users click through to across millions of websites. If a user clicks primarily on links leading to one or a small number of websites, they will receive a lower score than users clicking on links that lead to a large number of different sites. The researchers used this method to analyze an anonymous database of some 100,000 Web searches by users at IU, a dataset of about 18 million clicks by more than half a million users of the AOL search engine in 2006, and 1.3 billion public posts containing links on Twitter.

Facebook Activates 'Safety Check' During Paris Attack

Date: 2015-11-13

Facebook users who were in Paris during the Friday night terror attacks were able to notify friends and family that they were safe through the site's "Safety Check" tool. Users began getting notifications that friends who were in Paris were safe on Friday evening as those in the area were able to check in. The "Safety Check" tool was launched in 2014 and has been used five times. This is the first time the feature has been used in a non-natural disaster setting. A Facebook spokeswoman told CNNMoney that the site did not immediately have the numbers to share on how many were marked safe in Paris due to the feature just being activated. When first launched, Facebook noted that "Safety Check" would help users let friends and family know they are safe, check on others in the area, and mark friends as safe. Facebook determines the location of a user in the area by "looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you've opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet," according to its site.

Facebook Just Made It Easier to Talk to People You're Not Friends With

Date: 2015-10-27

Chatting with strangers on Facebook just got a bit easier. The social network is launching a new feature for Messenger called Message Requests, that makes it easier for people to receive (or ignore) messages from people they aren't friends with. Previously, messages that were sent by people who weren't friends (or friends of friends) were relegated to the "Other" inbox, a separate section within the messages tab on Facebook's website. The messages were easy to miss since new messages routed to the "other" section didn't surface in notifications. (Users also had the option of paying $1 to bypass the "Other" section.) With Message Requests, which is rolling out over the next several days, Facebook is streamlining how these types of messages are handled. Messages that previously would have been sent to "Other" will now appear within Messenger as a message request. Users can read the message and choose whether or not they want to respond without the other person knowing.

Instagram Launches New App 'Boomerang' For Making GIF-Like Videos

Date: 2015-10-22

Instagram built a new video app for making short, action-packed video loops. The standalone app, called “Boomerang,” rolled out on iOS and Android devices on Thursday. The bare-bones app combines photos into one-second videos that play forward and backward in a loop. Videos can be shot in portrait or landscape and automatically save to users’ camera rolls. Although Boomerang videos must be shot within the app, they can be shared on Instagram or elsewhere online. Fast and simple to use, the app doesn’t require users to have Instagram accounts. Boomerang bears some resemblance to “Vine,” a six-second video app owned by Twitter TWTR -3.57%, and the new Apple AAPL -0.84% “Live Photos” feature on the iPhone 6S. The new tool could help Instagram introduce more variety into its flagship app without complicating its interface. Boomerang isn’t Instagram’s first standalone app. This year, the photo-and-video sharing service launched the app “Layout” for making photo collages. Last August, Instagram created ”Hyperlapse” for making time lapse videos using stabilization technology. And last July, Instagram debuted a Snapchat-like photo sharing app called “Bolt.”

Twitter Grants Kordestani $12 Million in Restricted Stock Awards

Date: 2015-10-16

Twitter Inc. granted new Executive Chairman Omid Kordestani $11.9 million in restricted stock, according to a filing from the San Francisco-based social network. Kordestani will also receive 800,000 options to purchase Twitter shares and an annual salary of $50,000, according to the filing Friday. Kordestani, Google Inc.’s 11th employee who became that company’s chief business officer in 2014, was appointed to Twitter’s board this week. He previously built a $1.3 billion net worth by selling shares of Google, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At Twitter, he’s taking the post that Jack Dorsey vacated when he was named chief executive officer this month. Kordestani will have an operational role, helping with recruiting and strategy. Kordestani’s role at Google was reduced when it reorganized into Alphabet Inc., the Internet search giant’s parent company. Google had awarded Kordestani $97.7 million in 2014 compensation, making him the seventh-highest-paid executive in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg Pay Index, which values awards as of a company’s fiscal year-end. He forfeited 84 percent of the equity awards in that pay package on Sept. 30, which were then valued at $115 million. The remainder had vested.

Jack Dorsey Chosen to be Next Twitter CEO

Date: 2015-09-30

Jack Dorsey, cofounder and the microblogging site’s interim CEO, is expected to be officially named as the company’s permanent CEO as early as Thursday, according to a report in the tech blog Re/code. Citing unnamed sources Re/code said it is believed that Dorsey, 38, will also continue to serve as CEO of micropayments company Square, which he founded. The news, if confirmed, will come as no surprise to Silicon Valley, which has been waiting for Twitter to announce its next leader since former CEO Dick Costolo stepped down on July 1 amid heat from investors over slowing user growth. Soon after Costolo’s departure, sources close to the company have been saying increasingly that Dorsey would get the job and that he wanted to lead both companies.

Watch the Social Good Summit Unfold Behind-the-Scenes on Instagram

Date: 2015-09-24

The 2015 Social Good Summit on Sept. 27 and 28 in New York City is bringing together the biggest names in politics, activism and the arts to discuss topics on everything from ending childhood slavery to the future of humanitarian aid. Capturing all the behind-the-scenes action will be the third-annual Social Good Summit #Instacorps, a group of high-profile photojournalists and social media stars with an all-access pass to the events of the Social Good Summit and UN General Assembly Week. Timo Weiland was born in rural Nebraska and raised between Jacksonville, Florida and New York City. He expressed an early interest in fashion, and training from his mother in sewing at an early age led to the eventual creation of Timo Weiland, his New York-based women's and menswear brand. Want to get involved? Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #Instacorps and #2030Now. Together with our partners, including the United Nations Foundation, the UNDP and the 92nd Street Y, we're poised and ready for the 2015 Social Good Summit to be bigger than ever.

Google's Driverless Cars Run Into Problem: Cars With Drivers

The New York Times
Date: 2015-09-01

Researchers at Google and other companies pursuing self-driving cars are challenged by the fact that automated vehicles, which are programmed to obey the letter of the law and traffic safety rules, may have trouble fitting in with autos driven by people, who do not always adhere to such rules. "The real problem is the car is too safe," says Donald Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego. "[Driverless cars] have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture." Google cars routinely make quick, evasive maneuvers or practice caution in ways that are out of alignment with other vehicles on the road. Following the most cautious approach has led to 16 crashes involving Google cars in the last six years, with Google blaming human error for every collision.

How Social Bias Creeps Into Web Technology

The Wall Street Journal
Date: 2015-08-21

Predictive and decision-making Web technologies are susceptible to the unconscious social biases of their designers and programmers, to the degree they can reflect those prejudices in their functions. An example is Google's ad-targeting system, which gave male users a higher probability of being shown ads for high-paying jobs than female users, according to a recent study. "Computers aren't magically less biased than people, and people don't know their blind spots," notes data scientist Vivienne Ming. Machine-learning software is especially vulnerable to bias, according to Andrew Selbst, co-author of an upcoming study on the phenomenon. Such programs learn from a limited set of training data and then refine their knowledge based on real-world data and experience, adopting and often amplifying biases in either data set. Selbst says compounding the difficulty of tracing bias to the source so it can be corrected is the proprietary nature of most software and the complexity of the algorithm used by the computer.

Google Reveals How It Scales Its Network

The Wall Street Journal
Date: 2015-08-19

Google described its networking-scaling effort in a paper presented at the ACM SIGCOMM 2015 conference in London. The impetus for the detailed disclosure of its network operations is Google's move to open up its infrastructure and offer Google Cloud platform services to others, says Google fellow Amin Vahdat. The initiative dates back to 2005 with Google's less expensive decision to use custom-built instead of vendor-supplied switches, which heralded a wave of advances in software-defined networking. Google reports its current network, Jupiter, is powered by off-the-shelf switches scaled to more than 1 petabit per second of total bisection bandwidth. Like Google's five previous network generations, Jupiter employs centralized control management software boasting a 100-fold improvement in capacity over the first generation.

U.N.'s New Campaign Tells Aids Workers' Firsthand Stories Through your Facebook Page

Date: 2015-08-13

The United Nations wants you to "donate" your social media accounts to amplify the voices of aid workers and crisis survivors around the world. As part of the lead up to World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched the #ShareHumanity campaign on Thursday. You can sign up to have your Twitter or Facebook account automatically post a first-person narrative of a humanitarian crisis; each story comes through your feed in a series of posts staggered over the course of six hours. Participants can choose from more than a dozen powerful stories of survival and activism, whether it's a Syrian child living in Jordan's Za'atari refugee camp, a Himalayan guide delivering aid with the World Food Programme in Nepal or a harrowing account of a 12-year-old Nigerian girl searching for her brother. Alexandra Eurdolian, head of social media at OCHA, said this year's social-focused campaign is an effort to reach younger generations — especially those who wouldn't normally post about humanitarian issues, disrupting the feeds of those who follow them.

Flickr Photo Data Used to Predict People's Locations

Date: 2015-08-12

Researchers from University College in England have developed an algorithm that can predict people's location based on the photos they upload to the Flickr file-sharing website. Using photos shared by 16,000 people in the U.K., the team created a database of 8 million images. The algorithm accessed the photos' global-positioning system and time-stamp data to note all the locations where pictures had been taken by a single camera, as well as to predict where people would take photos in the future based on their past movements. The team tested the algorithm by comparing their results with a government survey taken to better understand national travel patterns.

The Future of the Internet is Social

IMDEA Networks
Date: 2015-08-10

The IMDEA Networks Institute has announced the successful completion of the European research project enhanced COntent distribution with Social Information (eCOUSIN). The project's findings met the research objective, according to European Commission reviewers. The main goal was to design an innovative network architecture that improves the efficiency of online social networks as well as the quality of the experience for users. Network prediction enables avoidance of performance outages by planning solutions before problems become unavoidable, or, if resource availability permits, users can take advantage of temporary profitable conditions to balance future quality degradation.

#ILookLikeAnEngineer: Women Scientists Smash Sexist Gender Stereotypes on Twitter

The Telegraph
Date: 2015-08-05

Remember #DistractinglySexy – the hashtag that took off in the aftermath of the "Tim Hunt women are distracting and cry in labs" debacle? The one where women scientists posting pictures of themselves on social media, pipetting, coding and culturing cells while mocking Hunt‘s comments? Now, meet #ILookLikeAnEngineer. Isis Anchalee, an engineer from San Francisco, this week posted a blog in which she described what it’s like to be a woman in STEM. Her experiences include having men throw dollar bills at her in the office and a fellow engineer asking her to be "friends with benefits" during an interview process. The 22-year-old platform engineer was writing in response to criticism she’d received over her looks, after being featured on a recruitment poster. At the bottom of her blog, she issued a call to action for other women engineers, asking them to post pictures under the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer. The aim was to show that appearance has no bearing on their level of skill, ability and professionalism. Within hours, the STEM community had responded. They highlighted their achievements, hobbies, families and demanded not to be judged by how they look.

This is What Controversies Look Like in the Twittersphere

MIT Technology Review
Date: 2015-08-03

Kiran Garimella and colleagues at Aalto University in Finland say they have developed a more reliable way of spotting controversies in the Twitterstream in real time. Although other researchers have focused on pre-identified arguments, Garimella's team sought to determine whether the structure of controversial conversations is different from that of benign discussions. The researchers theorized this structure could be spotted by studying the network of connections between those involved in a topic, the structure of endorsement (or who agrees with whom), and the sentiment of the discussion. They tested their theory by first studying 10 conversations associated with hashtags known to be controversial and 10 known to be benign. The researchers then mapped out the structure of the discussion by examining the networks of retweets, follows, and keywords.

Facebook Taking Open Source Software Ethos to Drones

The New York Times
Date: 2015-07-30

Facebook is undertaking advanced telecommunications development projects via an open source framework in which the company makes large volumes of the data and insights it generates publicly available. "Getting people to adopt the Internet faster is our end goal," says Facebook's Jay Parikh. One project, Aquila, is building out autonomous drones as part of a collaboration between specialists in areas such as solar power and battery materials, space laser scientists, aviation engineers and Facebook technologists. Facebook successfully increased space laser data transmission rates from about 2 Gbps to 10 Gbps partly thanks to collaboration with fiber-optic experts. Yael Maguire with Facebook's Connectivity Lab says this was achieved with methods that include detecting information through different wavelengths.

How Playing Computer Games Can Make the World Safer

BBC News
Date: 2015-07-21

It is estimated there are five bugs in every thousand lines of code in commercially available software, yet only a small handful of people have the skills to do the mathematical verification process needed to confirm a piece of software is error-free. However, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has funded a program to find ways of crowdsourcing the software verification problem. One of the solutions the program proposes is to turn the verification problem into puzzle games. One such game is Binary Fusion, developed by SRI International in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of California, Santa Cruz. The game presents players with colored balls that represent good and bad values.

Facebook Will Let You Buy Products from Retailers' Pages

Date: 2015-07-15

You'll soon be able to buy a lot more stuff on Facebook. The social network is testing a shopping experience that allows users to buy items directly from business' Facebook pages. The new shopping feature, first reported by BuzzFeed, will allow retailers to turn their Facebook pages into mini storefronts outside of their main websites. Facebook confirmed the new shopping features to Mashable Wednesday, saying it's currently being tested among a small number of users and a handful of retail and e-commerce companies. On mobile, the shopping features will appear in a new "shopping" section on the page, as pictured in the mockup image, below, while on desktop the shopping section will appear as a separate tab on the page in the same area where the Timeline, About, Photos and other tabs are currently located. In the shopping section, companies will show off products in a format that appears to be similar to the way photos are laid out.

We Forced Our Company to Communicate Only Through Snapchat

Date: 2015-07-11

Snapchat was the first social network I was too old to understand. I joined Facebook as it first rolled out on campuses when I was in my junior year of college. I joined Twitter and Instagram in the very early days and even snagged my first name @gregory as my username on both. I scoffed at people who didn’t “get” these services. Then Snapchat came around. I downloaded it, but none of my friends were on it so I found it impossible to understand the appeal. Most people could afford to adopt new social networks less quickly as they get older, but the company I cofounded, Sawhorse Media, runs The Shorty Awards which honor the best of social media and Muck Rack, a SaaS solution for PR and journalism with social media at its heart. It’s our job to understanding the latest trends in social media, yet many of us simply didn’t get Snapchat.

Whatsapp, Snapchat, iMessage May Face UK Ban Within Weeks

Date: 2015-07-10

Popular instant messaging apps could soon be banned in the UK, owing to the strict laws on social media and online messaging services. The move comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron pushes ahead with new legislation that plans to stop people from sending any form of encrypted messages. If passed, the new law could result in the UK ban of all popular messaging services that scramble communications between their users. This would include Snapchat, iMessage and WhatsApp. Earlier this year, Cameron stated that if re-elected he would look at ways to ban encrypted communication services. “In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read? My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not’,” the Prime Minister said. With the new Investigatory Powers Bill, Internet Service Providers, internet companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, will have to record the history of every UK user.

Facebook Fails to Improve Diversity Despite Rapid Hiring

Date: 2015-06-25

Facebook’s team is still dominated by white and Asian men. Diversity improved only slightly despite Facebook adding 2897 employees this year, according to its new demographic report. The 10,082-person company has only 1% more women from a year ago despite a 40% increase in headcount over a year and a half. And the company made no quantifiable progress growing its percentage of non-Asian ethnic minorities across the whole company or in its tech jobs. The biggest area of progress was that Facebook’s non-tech employee percentage of women grew from 47% to 52%. Any other gains were limited to a 1% increase in the female or Hispanic demographic. The company has launched several initiatives to improve diversity. The most noticeable is its diverse slate approach, which aims to “present hiring managers . . . with at least one qualified candidate who is a member of an underrepresented group to fill any open role.” It’s also expanded Facebook University, which offers internships to high-potential college freshman from underrepresented groups and a more rigorous training program for managing biases against minorities.

A Race to Identify Twitter Bots

USC Viterbi
Date: 2015-06-15

Many people get their news from social media, which is one of the main reasons why the spread of misinformation within these channels is a risk. The growing popularity of social media raises all sorts of questions about online security. According to a recent Twitter SEC filing, approximately 8.5 percent of all users on Twitter are bots, or fake accounts used to produce automated posts. While some of these accounts have commercial purposes, others are influence bots used to generate opinions about a certain topic. Concerned by the future potential of fake social media accounts, DARPA’s Social Media in Strategic Communication (SMIC) program held a four-week challenge this February, where several teams competed to identify a set of influence bots on Twitter.

Facebook Adds "Call Now" Click-to-Call Feature to Newsfeed Ads

Social Media Today
Date: 2015-05-28

Local advertisers now have a new tool for converting social network users to leads and sales, thanks to Facebook's new 'Call Now' button for News Feed ads. Mobile users who tap the button call the business immediately. "Call Now" is the second call-to-action button released as part of Facebook's "Local Awareness" objective, designed to help local businesses build their online profile and better engage consumers. The first, "Get Directions," launched in October 2014. It guides people directly to a business location after they click the button in an ad. Of course, Google has also been heavy on the mobile-local charge and has offered click-to-call on mobile search ads since 2011. Their research in 2014 showed that 70% of all mobile searchers use click-to-call within organic and paid search results.

Facebook's Goals for Internet.org and Why It's Facing Criticism

Date: 2015-05-20

Internet.org was supposed to be a great way for people around the globe who live in remote areas where the Internet is not readily available to get on the Web. The service, led by Facebook, has already connected millions of people, and the company hopes a billion people will eventually come online via Internet.org. But lately Facebook's brainchild is coming under fire around the world. A collective of 65 advocacy organizations from 31 countries has released an open letter arguing that Internet.org is not serving its purpose and actually violates the core tenets of a free and open Internet. The adverse publicity has cast Internet.org in a negative light, and critics are questioning whether the service is being developed in the interests of those who can't get Internet service or Facebook itself.

Google Now Displays Real-Time Tweets in Mobile Search Results

Date: 2015-05-20

The next time you search for something via Google's mobile app or your mobile browser, you may find related tweets popping up. As of Tuesday, real-time tweets began showing up in the search results that appear on your mobile device, assuming you use Google's app, Google.com or your mobile browser with Google set as the default search engine. Google and Twitter each announced the tweak in separate blog posts that explained how to discover relevant tweets in search results. For example, search for "Obama" on your mobile device, and the latest tweets from the president's Twitter account pop up in your search results. You can also include a hashtag to find tweets on trending topics. Search for "#madmen," and you'll find tweets that discuss the finale of the popular series. As an alternative, you can specify the word "Twitter" as part of your search. For example, search for "CNET Twitter," and among Google's search results will be tweets that point to recent CNET stories.

How Social Media is Helping Nepal Rebuild After Two Big Earthquakes

Date: 2015-05-19

Several groups both in and out of Nepal have turned to crisis-mapping technology--a method of using crowdsourced information to create maps showing where aid is needed in the wake of a disaster--following a pair of massive earthquakes that have rocked the small Himalayan nation in recent weeks. Before the earthquakes, Kathmandu Living Labs, a non-profit tech company based in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, used open data and tools such as OpenStreetMap to track development issues in the country. Following the quakes, its team began collecting Facebook posts and tweets to generate a single organized quake map that it shared with several relief groups and the Nepal Army. Another group called Sankalpa also has been creating maps, which it based on information gathered from mobile messaging service Sparrow SMS. Sankalpa's maps help to show where and what kinds of aid are being requested. They also help to cut down on inaccurate reporting.

Is Your Daily Social Media Usage Higher Than Average?

The Telegraph
Date: 2015-05-17

Social media swallows more than a quarter of time spent online and a third of all internet usage is now happening via mobile, a new global report has found. The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, accounting for 28pc of the total time spent on the internet. However, Britons are slightly less digitally obsessed, spending 1 hour and 20 minutes each day managing an average of four social networks, according to the latest quarterly report from GWI. Despite being the only major social network to see a decline in active users over the last year, Facebook remains the largest online community, as 82pc of the world’s population, excluding China, have a Facebook account and four in 10 people use the platform regularly. However, YouTube is the most popular social network, with a visitation rate eight percentage points higher than Facebook.

Google, NASA Work Together on Disney Show to Inspire Girls into Sciences

The Washington Post
Date: 2015-05-17

When it was developing a new series about a family of space adventurers, Disney Junior wanted the show to help bury common media stereotypes about science and programmers, so it turned to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Google for advice. A 2014 report by Google found a paucity of media portrayals of women in science has contributed to the low rate of girls pursuing science, technology, engineering and math careers. Disney Junior visited Google headquarters in Silicon Valley and NASA's Southern California base to speak with technology and space experts about how to authentically portray the Callisto family in its new series, "Miles from Tomorrowland." NASA helped Disney develop the character of Phoebe, the mother and captain of the spaceship, including basing her design on astronaut Yvonne D. Cagle. At Google, the show's creator, Sascha Paladino, met with several female engineers to hone the depiction of Loretta, the main character's sister, who uses programming to solve problems.

Chicken Soup for the Facebook Soul

Date: 2015-05-07

It's 1:30 p.m. – three hours before a morsel of food will be served – and a crowd is already gathering outside of Miriam's Kitchen. If you didn't know it was there, you'd probably walk right by it. Located in Washington, D.C.'s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, known primarily for wandering undergrads and lush embassies, Miriam's Kitchen hides inside of the Western Presbyterian Church on Virginia Ave NW. For its patrons, however, Miriam's Kitchen might as well have an iconic marquee worthy of a five-star eatery. Every Monday, the chefs at Miriam's Kitchen gather around the loading dock in anticipation of the week's food donations, hoping for something fun to play with. The organization has several local food donors, such as Tacoma Park Farmers Market, FRESHFARM, even Costco, but their weekly offerings are, quite literally, a mixed bag. So after the pallets of produce are unloaded – on this particular Monday, those pallets included leafy Swiss chard and 14 crates of fresh apples – the scene in the kitchen bears a closer resemblance to an episode of Chopped than it does to a homeless refuge.

Facebook Gives Publishers New Tools to Customize Native Ads in Third-Party Apps

Date: 2015-05-06

Facebook has launched a new standard native mobile ad format. It promises to make it easier for businesses to place their ads inside third-party apps in the Facebook Audience Network, which launched last year. The new native ad templates allow publishers to customize things like the font, ad height, background color, button border treatment and other features. The modification options will allow ads to look more like regular in-app content, because, ultimately, people hate being interrupted by jarring ads. Facebook is also introducing a native ad template for horizontal scroll. In addition, there are new tools to manage multiple native ad requests. The new native ads manager allows publishers to keep control of which ads appear by pre-fetching up to 10 at once, and then automatically optimizing them to appear in highest-performing order.

IBM, Facebook Partner on Marketing Cloud Push

Date: 2015-05-06

IBM has teamed up with Facebook to help marketers change how they interact with consumers and improve consumers' overall experience with brands both on social networks, on their mobile devices or even in-store. Facebook and IBM Commerce today announced that they will collaborate to provide the world's leading brands with tailored marketing capabilities that reach the right people at the right time with the right message. The companies said IBM's marketing cloud clients can now utilize Facebook’s ad capabilities such as Custom Audiences, along with IBM's deep analytics and design features, to create experiences for their customers across applications, devices and time. Using IBM's new Journey Designer, brands can create personalized customer experiences across all engagement touch points and then use Journey Analytics to gain an understanding, at an aggregate level, of how customers responded. By combining Facebook's ad technologies with IBM's Journey Analytics, brands can more accurately determine which groups of customers are among the 1.44 billion people active on Facebook and establish correlations in aggregate between their interests and interactions across multiple channels. These insights can then be brought to life through IBM's Journey Designer solution, guiding brands to deliver more compelling messages on Facebook and other mediums.

Facebook Says EU's Privacy Investigations Hurt Innovation, Economy

Date: 2015-04-29

The world's largest social network has a message for the European Union: stay the course or risk hurting our users.In a lengthy editorial published Wednesday, Facebook's vice president of public policy in Europe, Richard Allan, issued a retort to European regulators who have started investigations into the company's privacy practices. Allan argues that the many countries now investigating Facebook are undermining European law and could ultimately hurt both Facebook's users and smaller Internet companies trying to become the next Facebook. Some EU countries are at odds with Facebook -- which has 1.4 billion users worldwide, including 83 percent active outside the US and Canada -- over how regulations should be handled in the euro zone. Earlier this month, privacy regulators in France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere launched probes into how Facebook collects user data. They're most interested in how Facebook combines its own information with that from the other companies it owns, like photo-sharing service Instagram, as well as how it tracks people after they have used Facebook's "like" button.

Facebook Adds Free Video Calling to Messenger

Date: 2015-04-27

Users can now place free video calls with Messenger, as Facebook continues to extend the app beyond simple text-based chats. With the feature, Facebook is also taking a jab at competing products like Apple's FaceTime, Microsoft's Skype and Google Hangouts. Facebook previously allowed video calling through its site on the desktop, but not within its Messenger app. The video calling feature is available in the iOS and Android Messenger apps. iOS users will be able to video chat with Android users and vice versa. It began rolling out Monday in the U.S. and more than a dozen other countries including Mexico, Nigeria and Uruguay, with availability in more regions slated for the coming months, Facebook said in a blog post. The feature arrives as Facebook makes Messenger a platform for a variety of digital tasks. Other app developers can now integrate their software into Messenger, and users will soon be able to interact with businesses via the app to check the status of their orders. In March, Facebook began letting Messenger users send each other money through the app. Messenger already handles more than 10 percent of all Internet-based voice calls, according to Facebook. The company sees video as an important extension of its functionality, especially when a voice call won't do. To start a video call, users tap the video camera icon in the upper right corner of the chat window. With Messenger now available on the desktop, the feature could become a useful communications tool for businesses.

Google Wants to Speed Up the Web With Its QUIC Protocol

Date: 2015-04-18

Google recently disclosed about half of all requests from Chrome to Google's servers are now served over its experimental, low-latency Internet transportation protocol over [User Datagram Protocol] UDP called Quick UDP Internet Connection (QUIC). The protocol is often used by gaming, streaming media and Voice over Internet Protocol services. QUIC aims to combine some of the best features of UDP and [Transmission Control Protocol] TCP with modern security tools. A browser using QUIC can immediately start talking to a server it has talked to before. In addition, QUIC features new tools such as congestion control and automatic re-transmissions, which make the protocol more reliable than pure UDP. "QUIC allows us to test and experiment with new ideas, and to get results sooner," says Google's development team.

10 Bold Google X Projects Aiming for Tech Breakthroughs

Date: 2015-04-16

Located a half mile away from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, CA, is the company's Google X laboratory, which is dedicated to the research and development of groundbreaking technologies. The lab was the birthplace of Google Glass and is where much of the work on the company's self-driving cars is being carried out, along with several other innovative projects. For example, Google researchers are working on Project Wing, a drone-delivery program that could compete with a similar initiative by Amazon. Other research efforts include Project Loon, which aims to spread Internet access to rural areas using balloons, and Makani Power, which uses airborne wind turbines to generate clean energy. Google X also is focused on health applications. For example, Lift Labs seeks to counteract the effects of Parkinson's disease with a spoon that makes it easier for sufferers to eat, while its Baseline Study hopes to use medical and genomic data to define how a healthy human body appears.

Yahoo, USC Researchers Send Out an Extensive Look Into Email Behavior

Date: 2015-04-13

Yahoo Labs researchers in Sunnyvale, CA, and Barcelona, Spain, as well as from the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute, conducted a large-scale study of email habits and behaviors involving more than 2 million participants who sent 16 billion messages over several months. The researchers selected a random sub-sample of Yahoo Mail users worldwide who had at least five replies in each direction. The dataset included messages belonging only to users who voluntarily opted-in for such studies. The researchers monitored the age and identities of senders and recipients, subject lines, when the emails were sent, length, the number of attachments and the devices from which the emails were checked or sent. The study found users replied faster to emails received during weekdays and working hours, and younger users generally sent faster, shorter replies.

Does Your Password Pass Muster?

Concordia News
Date: 2015-03-25

New research from Concordia University raises concerns about the effectiveness of password strength meters, or the bars that turn red, yellow or green to rate the strength of new passwords. Professor Mohammad Mannan and Ph.D. student Xavier de Carne de Carnavalet have tested the meters of high-traffic sites such as Google, Yahoo!, Dropbox and Twitter, as well as some found in password managers. The researchers say the meters can confuse people because what is considered a strong password on one site might be rated weak on another. For example, some meters are very strict, assigning scores only to passwords that contain at least three character sets, while others are fine with the selection of letter-only passphrases. "Dropbox's rather simple checker is quite effective in analyzing passwords and is possibly a step towards the right direction," Mannan says.

Keep Up With Women in HPC on Facebook

Women in HPC
Date: 2015-03-21

In September 2013, the idea for the Women in HPC group was born. Our first step was to quantify the current status, understand how many women are working HPC, and if they aren’t, why not. We are still in the earliest stages of setting up this group and are hoping to track progress over time to help understand how initiatives such as this may impact the community. To learn more about Women in HPC, please visit us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/womeninhpc).

Googlers' Epic Hack Exploits How Memory Leaks Electricity

Wired News
Date: 2015-03-10

The increasing density of transistors in memory chips has raised concerns that electromagnetic leakage within the chips could cause unpredictable behavior. Now, a team of Google researchers has demonstrated a method of inducing such leakage to purposefully corrupt portions of the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) of certain laptops and bypass security protections. In a post on Google's Project Zero blog, the researchers describe using what is known as the "Rowhammer" technique to create security exploits. Rowhammering involves running a program designed to target a certain row of transistors in a computer's memory with the goal of inducing electromagnetic leakage that will cause the bits in the next row of memory to be flipped.

CS + Social Good Looks to Consolidate Student Activism in Computer Science

Stanford Daily
Date: 2015-02-19

Some Stanford University computer science students have formed CS + Social Good to understand the applications of computer science (CS) in a socially relevant way. Although CS + Social Good is not yet recognized as an official student organization by the university, its board hopes it will become official in the spring. For now, the group has been focused on gauging campus interest and connecting computer science students who are involved in social justice. "The idea behind the group is simply to motivate people to do projects that are socially relevant," says CS + Social Good co-president Manu Chopra. CS + Social Good is working toward its goals by creating a community of people who are interested in the topic. The group also wants to involve members of the community who are not studying computer science.

Facebook AI Director Yann LeCun on His Quest to Unleash Deep Learning and Make Machines Smarter

IEEE Spectrum
Date: 2015-02-18

In an interview, Yann LeCun, New York University professor and head of Facebook's Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab, discusses his work as an AI researcher, how AI is portrayed and perceived by the public and what he sees as the future of the field. LeCun's work focuses on deep learning, which he struggles to provide a concise definition for, except to say direct comparisons to the human brain are often overly simplistic. LeCun says deep-learning networks are in some ways inspired by the structure and function of the human brain but tend to be quite different in many fundamental ways. LeCun is especially wary of researchers and businesses that portray their AI as being like the brain, suspecting that such claims are more about attracting attention than being accurate.

Social Network Analysis Privacy Tackled

Penn State News
Date: 2015-02-14

Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers are researching ways to maintain privacy on social networks. PSU professor Sofya Raskhodnikova says the goal is to be able to release information without making personal or sensitive data available and still be accurate. With multiple public databases available, data can easily be correlated between databases to assemble pieces of deleted data and recover the identifying information. Differential privacy, which restricts the types of analyses that can be performed to those for which the presence or absence of one person is insignificant, is needed to maximize the accuracy of analysis while preventing identification of individual records. Differential privacy guarantees an analysis performed on two databases that differ in only one record will return nearly the same result.

2015 World Cup - The BIG BLOGGER Contest!

HPC Asia
Date: 2015-02-13

If you are a BIG DATA enthusiast and LOVE CRICKET or SPORTS, then share your article combining BIG DATA + SPORTS with us for a chance to win an awesome prize. Be sure to vote for your story and share with friends. Rules: 1. The contest is open for people above the age of 21 years 2. The contest is open from 15th February 2015 to 10th March 2015 3. The contest rules and prizes can be changed anytime 4. HPC ASIA is not responsible for logistics or quality of gifts 5. Winners will be declared on the basis of votes and jury decision 6. The submitted article should be of at least 300 words around Big Data and Sports (can be any sport or sports in a generic way)

Facebook, LinkedIn Join to Help Women in Tech

Date: 2015-02-09

Facebook and LinkedIn have launched a collaborative initiative to boost the shrinking numbers of women studying engineering and computer science in order to fill thousands of lucrative Silicon Valley jobs that are traditionally dominated by men. The initiative includes mentoring and support programs at colleges to get more women involved in studying technology in general but also as future employees. "If everybody who creates a product looks the same, you know the results won't be nearly as interesting," says Anita Borg Institute CEO Telle Whitney. "We want for the sake of our future to have women involved in all the projects that will change our lives." Although the executives would not disclose how much of a financial commitment they are making, the initiative is different in that it is more focused on peer groups and a mentoring process already established through Lean In Circles, an international conversation about the lack of women in positions of power, launched by Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg in 2011. "A lot of our consumers, at least half, sometimes more, are women," Sandberg says. "We build a product that gives people a voice. We know we can't build a product for the world unless our teams reflect the diversity of the people who use the product."

With Google Glass App Developed at UCLA, Scientists Can Analyze Plants' Health in Seconds

UCLA Newsroom
Date: 2015-02-09

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have developed a Google Glass application that enables the wearer to quickly analyze the health of a plant without damaging it. The app analyzes the concentration of chlorophyll, which indicates water, soil, and air quality. Conventional methods for measuring chlorophyll concentration involve removing some of the plant's leaves, dissolving them in a chemical solvent, and then performing the chemical analysis. With the new Google Glass app, leaves are examined and then left functional and intact. The system relies on an image captured by the Google Glass camera to measure the chlorophyll's light absorption in the green part of the optical spectrum. The system also has a handheld illuminator unit that can be produced using three-dimensional printing.

Twitter Reveals the Language of Persuasion

Cornell Chronicle
Date: 2015-02-05

Cornell University researchers are using automated text analysis to identify features that make Twitter messages more likely to get noticed. They developed an algorithm that, compared to humans, more accurately predicted which version of a tweet would be retweeted more. Cornell professor Lillian Lee and colleagues conducted a controlled experiment that eliminated the effects of a topic's or writer's popularity, collecting and comparing thousands of tweets on the same topic but used different wording. The algorithm searched for the occurrence of certain keywords, and compared combinations of two words that may indicate a linguistic style.

F.T.C. Says Internet-Connected Devices Pose Big Risks

The New York Times
Date: 2015-01-27

Internet-connected devices present serious data security and privacy risks, according to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report released on Tuesday, which urged organizations to make data protection a top priority. Although the report acknowledges the potential benefits for users of smart devices, it notes the technology also generates enormous amounts of personal data that could be misused or obtained by hackers. The report also says organizations should develop new ways to communicate their data collection and handling practices. However, the FTC does not have the power to enforce these regulations, and it has urged Congress to enact a baseline federal consumer privacy law.

Twitter Can Predict Rates of Coronary Heart Disease, According to Penn Research

Penn News
Date: 2015-01-21

University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that Twitter can serve as a dashboard indicator of a community’s psychological well-being and can predict rates of heart disease. The researchers note Twitter can capture more information about heart disease risk than many traditional factors combined because it also characterizes the psychological atmosphere of a community. For example, they found expressions of negative emotions such as anger, stress, and fatigue in a county’s tweets were associated with higher heart disease risk, while positive emotions such as excitement and optimism were associated with lower risk. The researchers collected a set of public tweets made between 2009 and 2010 and used established emotional dictionaries, as well as automatically generated clusters of words reflecting behaviors and attitudes, to analyze a random sample of tweets from individuals who had made their locations available.

Turning Pac-Man into a Street-Based Chase Game Using Smartphones

Technology Review
Date: 2015-01-19

Researchers led by Thomas Chatzidimitris at Greece's University of the Aegean have invented a real-world application of the iconic video game Pac-Man using Android smartphone technology. PacMap enables players to negotiate a labyrinth of actual city streets by determining their location on OpenStreetMap using the smartphone's global positioning system (GPS) sensors. The local street network is then overlaid with a Pac-Man grid dotted with coins, which players collect while being chased by virtual ghosts. The ghosts are programmed either to travel along random paths calculated with standard algorithms or to follow players using more sophisticated processes.

Facebook Offers Artificial Intelligence Tech to Open Source Group

The New York Times
Date: 2015-01-16

Facebook recently announced plans to donate several powerful computing tools to Torch, an open source software project focused on deep-learning techniques. Among the tools Facebook is donating are neural networking tools that the company says are capable of speeding pattern recognition by up to 23.5 times. Facebook also is donating new means for training numerous computer processors at the same time to better catalog words when analyzing language and using speech recognition software. Torch was co-founded by Soumith Chintala, a research engineer studying artificial intelligence at Facebook. Chintala says Torch's assorted tools are useful for a variety of projects ranging from neural networks and artificial intelligence to computer vision and text-recognition systems.

Google Translate App Gets an Upgrade

The New York Times
Date: 2015-01-14

Google upgraded its Google Translate app this week, adding two new tools that expand the smartphone app's capabilities. The first is a voice tool that provides users with the ability to translate spoken words more seamlessly than before. The tool works best with short, jargon-free sentences with a significant pause between translations, making it ideal for commercial transactions such as ordering at a restaurant. The other tool is a visual translator, which is based on the Word Lens app developed by Quest Visual. Google acquired Quest Visual last May with the goal of incorporating its technology into Google Translate. The new tool enables users to put a piece of text in front of their smartphone's camera and receive an instantaneous translation.

MOOCs Aim to Strengthen Computer Science and Physics Teaching in Middle and High Schools

Date: 2015-01-13

Many agree that one of the best ways to close the gender and diversity gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is to begin educating students in those fields earlier in their K-12 careers, writes Harvey Mudd College president and former ACM president Maria Klawe. She notes research has shown that early exposure to these subjects increases the likelihood students will go on to pursue them in college. However, many schools, especially those serving underprivileged populations, lack the resources for comprehensive STEM education. Only 10 percent of U.S. K-12 schools offer classes in computer science, for example, and just 5 percent of U.S. high schools are certified to teach Advanced Placement Computer Science. To fill the gap, Harvey Mudd has created three massively open online courses (MOOCs) for middle school and high school teachers. The first course, "Middle Years Computer Science," walks a teacher through the process of developing a computer science curriculum for students with a range of interest and experience in computer science.

Google Wants You to Help Design the Internet of Things

Date: 2014-12-12

Google plans to fund research that will help support the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), with the projects to be carried out over the course of a year. One set of awards will be for larger team projects that would be led by an academic or a graduate student "willing to dedicate a substantial portion of their research time to this expedition," according to the company's request for proposals. Google will provide grants of $500,000 to $800,000 for the projects. A smaller set of awards, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, will be available for "new and unorthodox solutions" in user interface and application development, privacy and security, and systems and protocols research.

How Google "Translates" Pictures into Words Using Vector Space Mathematics

Technology Review
Date: 2014-12-01

Google is applying the techniques it uses to translate text into different languages to a system that automatically creates captions for images. Google Translate uses a method known as vector space mathematics to translate text. The machine-learning technique focuses on where words appear in a sentence and in relation to other words, defining words as a vector in relation to one another and sentences as combinations of vectors. Google Translate translates a given sentence into a vector equation and then translates that equation into the other desired language. Google now is using this technique in a new system it calls Neural Image Caption (NIC). The system started by studying a dataset of 100,000 images and their captions to learn how to classify images and their contents. It then converts these captions into vector equations to learn how an image relates to the words used to describe it.

Facebook's Flow Could Help JavaScript Programmers Spot Elusive Bugs

PC World
Date: 2014-11-18

Facebook researchers have developed Flow, an open source debugging tool for JavaScript designed to highlight problems caused by the misuse of data types. Flow, which Facebook has used on many of its own projects, "improves speed and efficiency so developers can be more productive while using JavaScript," according to Facebook engineers. Flow is a static type checker, ensuring when a program is run that its variables, functions and other code elements will adhere to their original specifications. The tool can check to see if a value assigned to a variable is the correct type and to see if a function has passed the correct number of inputs. The researchers say these types of error checks could avert program failures and help secure the program against malicious misuse. Flow differs from TypeScript because it enables the developer to check only portions of the code and does not require the programmer to compile the program for inspection.

The New Thing in Google Flu Trends is Traditional Data

The New York Times
Date: 2014-10-31

Google recently announced it is overhauling its Flu Trends service to harness more traditional medical data, which has long been used to track and predict the flu season. Flu Trends was an early example of the potential for the use of big data after it was able to successfully predict the severity of the H1N1 flu outbreak two weeks ahead of official statistics in 2009. The service monitors flu-related search terms on the theory they will correlate with actual rates of flu infections. However, Flu Trends has had mixed success in recent years. In an article published in Science magazine this year, a group of quantitative social scientists found Flu Trends tends to overestimate the number of reported flu cases, most famously during the 2012-2013 flu season, when it greatly overestimated the number of reported cases.

Twitter Grants Select Researchers Access to its Public Database

The Washington Post
Date: 2014-10-24

In February, Twitter announced a data grant program offering a handful of research teams free access to its database. The academic researchers making the requests want to study almost a decade of historical data, according to Twitter's Chris Moody. He notes researchers want to develop models to predict the success of political campaigns, the spread of public health crises, and other phenomena. "They call it 'back-testing'--they needed to back-test their hypotheses," Moody says. A team of researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children's Hospital was chosen as one of six research projects for the data grant pilot program. The project combines food-poisoning reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with content from Internet users to better understand the spread of food-borne illnesses.

Google Teams up with Oxford Academics to Bring Human-Like Robots Closer to Reality

The Daily Mail
Date: 2014-10-23

Google is collaborating with Oxford University artificial intelligence (AI) researchers to help machines better understand users and to improve visual-recognition systems using deep learning. "It is a really exciting time for AI research these days, and progress is being made on many fronts, including image recognition and natural language understanding," says Demis Hassabis, co-founder of DeepMind and vice president of engineering at Google. "We are delighted to announce a partnership with Oxford University to accelerate Google's research efforts in these areas." Four Oxford researchers, who together co-founded Dark Blue Labs earlier this year, will work with Google on machine-learning technology. Three other Oxford professors, who co-founded Vision Factory, will work on visual-recognition systems.

5 Ways Social Media Is Changing Your Brain

Date: 2014-09-15

The persistence of social media is certainly changing how things are done. In a matter of minutes, you can wish an old friend happy birthday on Facebook, find a recipe for dinner on Pinterest, watch a how-to project on YouTube, and get up to the minute updates on events from Twitter. But social media isn’t just changing how we act; it’s actually changing our brains as well. AsapSCIENCE has created this video that demonstrates the 5 ways social media is altering your brain - sometimes in ways that aren’t all that different from being addicted to drugs. To view the video, please visit http://www.iflscience.com/brain/5-ways-social-media-changing-your-brain#.

10 Technologies That Will Transform PCs in 2015 and Beyond

Date: 2014-08-02

There is much to get excited about computers when you consider all the things that go into PCs to make them faster, lighter, more powerful, and more convenient to use. Intel's next chipset, codenamed Broadwell, may strike a better balance for 2-in-1 PCs, as it will allow for 12.5-inch tablets that weigh less than 1.5 pounds and are thinner than an iPad Air. Over the next six years, AMD expects its processors to become 25 times more power-efficient, outpacing Moore's law by shifting some of the workload to the graphics processor. Meanwhile, a push by Intel for "wire-free" PCs by 2016 could enable wireless charging and low-latency screen sharing to gain some traction. The USB Implementers Forum will follow up Apple's Lightning cable with a standard cable that will be 3.1 times faster and offer fewer headaches.

Beyond GPS: Five Next-Generation Technologies

Date: 2014-07-30

U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) director Arati Prabhakar says his agency is currently running five programs that seek to improve civilian and military GPS navigation technology through development of new methods for obtaining positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) data. The first is the Adaptable Navigation System project, which seeks to bring together data points from non-navigational sources such as electromagnetic signals from satellites and radio broadcasts with data from new sensors using techniques such as cold-atom interferometry. The Microtechnology for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing project leverages DARPA's micro-electromechanical systems technology to make extremely small sensors, such as chip-scale gyroscopes, clocks, and integrated timing and inertial measurement devices. The Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout project aims to miniaturize and make portable the technology behind the world's most accurate atomic clocks, which could have applications in new detection and ranging technologies.

Share Button May Share Your Browsing History, Too

KU Leuven
Date: 2014-07-21

A recent KU Leuven and Princeton University study provides the first large-scale investigation of a previously undetected cookie-like tracking mechanism embedded in the "share" buttons of websites. The researchers found 5.5 percent of the world's top 100,000 websites track users using the mechanism, called canvas fingerprinting, which uses special scripts to exploit the browser's canvas, a browser functionality that can be used to draw images and text. When a user visits a website with canvas fingerprinting software, a first script tells the user's browser to print an invisible string of text on the browser's canvas, while another script instructs the browser to read back data about the pixels in the rendered image; this grouping of data is highly unique for each user and it can be reliably associated to individual users.

The Story of WebP: How Google Wants to Speed Up the Web, One Image at a Time

Date: 2014-07-19

Google is hoping its new image format, WebP, will help to speed up the Web by shrinking the size of the average image file. Google already has realized tremendous bandwidth savings by introducing the format into its platforms and services; the average page load time of the Chrome Web Store was reduced by nearly a third and the Google+ mobile apps are saving 50 terabytes of data everyday after the switch to WebP. Other Internet giants, including Netflix and Facebook, also have adopted the WebP format, which grew out of work on Google's WebM video format and offers image compression about a third better than the JPEG format. WebP also combines features of several different formats. For example, it can compress high-detail images like a JPEG, animate images like a GIF, and feature transparency like a PNG.

$50 Million Google Coding Initiative Targets Girls

USA Today
Date: 2014-06-19

Google has launched a $50 million initiative to inspire more high school girls to pursue programming careers in order to close a yawning gap between supply and demand, according to Google vice president Megan Smith. "We hope to show girls that coding is fun," she says. The goal of the Made with Code effort is to demolish the stereotype of programming as a tedious and isolating technical chore and build up an image of a profession that applies to a vast number of fields. "The issue of role models is a big one, and [Made with Code] represents a new, comprehensive effort to provide just that," says Chelsea Clinton, who spoke at the project's kickoff event.

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