Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 31, 2019

in rsslog •  12 days ago 

Remember to drive carefully on Halloween, and keep an eye out for little ones; In a TED talk, filmmakers discuss social media moderation practices and risks; Microsoft says Russian hackers are targeting the 2020 Olympic games; Twitter erroneously mass-suspended accounts during protests last month in Egypt; and a Steem essay on crowdfunding


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  1. Forget poisoned candy and razor blades. Here’s the real Halloween horror - Starting in the 1970s with the heroin death of little Kevin Toston, the media has regaled parents with scary stories of kids coming to harm from booby-trapped Halloween candy. These stories have involved tales of everything from razor blades in apples to drug-laced candies. It turns out, however that Toston was killed by his father's own stash of drugs, not by Halloween candy. In fact, according to a recent article in the NY Times, researchers have not found a single case where, "a child was seriously injured—let alone killed—by Halloween treats made hazardous by strangers". The actual risk for kids on Halloween is far more mundane. According to a study in JAMA Pediatrics, kids between 4 and 8 have a tenfold risk increase of being hit by a car on Halloween. (Journalistic red flag: No absolute risk is given.) According to the abstract, this risk can be mitigated through parental supervision and public awareness of Halloween, so if you're on the road around dusk on Halloween, keep your eyes peeled for little ones whose vision might be impaired due to Halloween masks.

  2. The price of a "clean" internet | Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck - This TED talk was posted in November, 2018 and it came across the RSS feed for TED on October 29, 2019. In the talk, film makers Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck discuss their documentary, The Cleaners which depicts the life of the content moderators who keep the Big-Tech social media feeds clean. In the talk, they point out that some of the moderators are so disturbed by what they see that it even leads to suicide, and they discuss the difficulty of balancing the risk of upsetting viewers against the public's right - or even need - to know about things like war and other violent content. In the end, Block says, "It's a matter of principle. Do we want to design an either open or closed society for the digital space? At the heart of the matter is 'freedom versus security.'" The article closes by making the argument that the debate between open and closed should not take place in Google, Facebook, and Twitter's private offices, but it should occur throughout the public institutions.

  3. Russian hackers are targeting the 2020 Olympics - In Curating the Internet: Science and technology micro-summaries for October 22, 2019, this series covered a little-known cyberattack against the 2018 Olympic games. Now, MIT Technology Review says that Russian GRU hackers are also targeting the 2020 games, in Tokyo. According to a post by Microsoft, the attacks began in mid-September, and they made use of techniques like phishing, password spraying, and leveling exploits against Internet connected devices. According to the article, Japanese policy-makers first saw the Olympics as an opportunity to improve their cybersecurity capability, but now they're wondering if they're up to the task. (Related: The Untold Story of the 2018 Olympics Cyberattack, the Most Deceptive Hack in History)

  4. Twitter “Silenced” Dissenting Voices During Anti-Government Protests In Egypt - According to research by an Egyptian digital rights activist, out of 60 accounts that were suspended during last month's "anti-government demonstrations", about 30 of them had been suspended without cause. Twitter acknowledged that accounts were mass-suspended in error, and apologized, but declined to elaborate on how it happened. Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, commented for the article, saying that, "We have seen a lot of activist accounts restricted and blocked by Twitter MENA in a highly problematic way around the time of these protests". h/t OS news

  5. STEEM Crowdfunding: The Tool for You and I to Own Part of our Economy - In this post, @edje argues that crowdfunding can be an important part of creating a more decentralized world. According to the post, crowdfunding can take the form of donations, rewards, loans, convertible loans, and shares in the firm. The post goes on to say that @edje likes the convertibe loans method, where a traditional loan can be converted into ownership shares or revert to a traditional loan after a pre-agreed period of time. The essay goes on to illustrate the idea of crowdsourcing with a brief description of Snapcar, an early Dutch crowdsourcing success story. As with any other investment, @edje advises the reader to do their research before investing in crowdsourcing arrangements. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @edje.)


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