For many students, the most challenging part about writing a research paper is the research. Even the best students often don’t know how to conduct research or even where to start.

But you’re in luck:

This article by Custom-writing.org experts provides a list of great research tools that will be useful at every stage of the process. The collection includes everything necessary to write a great paper, from online public libraries to dissertation databases. There are also some data analysis and data visualization research tools, as well as organizers for scholars. The list includes brief descriptions for each of the tools. All you need is to continue reading, choose the tools you like most, and get a fantastic result!

research steps

1.  Doing Research: Key Steps

Regardless of the subject field, all research has a similar structure. Such an approach facilitates the mutual understanding of scientists from neighboring or even distant domains. As a rule, scientific texts are challenging to write and read. That is why you need to observe the following procedure.

  1. Topic selection. Surprisingly, this is the most creative part of a research project. The subject area shall be topical and relevant, and the title must be concise and informative.
  2. Literature review and concept development. To write something new, you need to know what has already been written by other scientists. Study the available literature on your subject and define what statement or concept you will defend in your research.
  3. Empirical part: data collection and analysis. Accumulate the evidence to support your thesis statement.
  4. Conclusions and recommendations. Any research finishes with generalizations of the findings. You can as well give general suggestions for your successors in research.

The following sections provide you with tools and techniques to facilitate each of the four stages. There is also a list of tools helping to organize the entire research procedure.

2.  Topic Generating Tools

In science and academia, nobody receives a ready-made topic to work on. As a rule, you are given a direction in which you should look for an unexplored field of knowledge. With this direction in mind, you can brainstorm a compelling topic that would be engaging. There are multiple tools to make the task an easy one.

1 Lucidchart Lucidchart is an excellent instrument based on infographics. The diagrams in this software help to understand people’s behavior, data, and processes. The visualization allows to find out the interdependence between different phenomena. If you have a large bulk of information to process before generating a topic, this should be your choice.
2 Mind42 Mind42 is a free (ad-supported) mind mapping tool. Structure your notes here for further reference. It works as a block diagram, where units of information are connected with arrows. It is user-friendly, so you will not waste much time on preparations.
3 Visual Thesaurus This one is more about the formulation. If you have come up with a topic, but struggle with its wording, visualize it with the tool. The tool gives you a list of word associations and their relationships. By the way, the service is excellent for theoretical research as it builds word maps, provides their meanings, and suggests related terms.

3.  Research Tools for Making a Literature Review

3.1. Research Databases

So, you have created a word document and noted the title. What next? You should look for the most authoritative works in the required sphere. How do you know which ones are the most influential? There are online research tools that create lists of the most cited scientific articles.

1 Google Scholar The same company that produced the world’s top search engine also offers the world’s top scholarly search engine. Google Scholar works just like Google. But it directly links you to only publications in countless academic journals. When using the system, look at the right-hand side of the search results. There, Google Scholar shows you if a PDF is available for each article.
2 Web of Knowledge Many academic research services charge a fee. But Web of Knowledge is the most widely used. And this is for a good reason: it provides search features missing from Google Scholar. Check to see if your library offers access to the Web of Knowledge.
3 LexisNexis This is the research resource of choice for law school students and lawyers. Of course, this is an expensive service for individuals. But your school may have free access.
4 Scopus Scopus is a bibliographical base used by over five thousand academic, governmental, and corporate establishments. It searches through about 75 million entries, including 194’000 books. You can search by author, document title, or affiliation. It shows the citation rate of almost any article from any discipline. The tool also suggests similar documents by related references, which could accelerate your research.
5 Web of Science WoS is a multidisciplinary citation database trusted by more than 9 thousand institutions. It allows for the historical tracking of research questions in all spheres of knowledge. 9.1 billion cited references would suffice for the most exigent researcher. Web of Science can be used as a resource to find trusted materials in the public domain.

3.2. Digital Libraries

Once you have found enough references, you need to study them. Visiting conventional libraries is often a waste of time since many contemporary research documents are accessible on the web. Digital libraries are usually paid web research tools, but many universities and colleges purchase a subscription for their students.

1 Google Books Google Books was launched in 2004. Today, it offers full-text searches of over 25 million books. That’s a lot of reading!
2 The US Library of Congress As a leading research library, the Library of Congress has an incredible number of online resources. Their website lets you search for nearly every book ever written. You can also skim their vast online collections.
3 Project Gutenberg The goal of Project Gutenberg sounds crazy. They aim to digitize every book that is not under copyright. In brief, they offer almost every classic book published before 1900.
4 JSTOR This database searches for books, primary sources, and journals. It provides free access to open community collections of museums, public libraries, and archives. The resource has a special offer due to COVID-19 displacement of students, offering free use of unlicensed materials. Still, only the participating educational institutions are eligible. You can share your lists with other users if you wish.
5 ScienceDirect ScienceDirect focuses on medical, technical, engineering, and scientific research, but humanities are also covered. It provides access to foundational and theoretic materials and the latest findings. You can search by keywords, author, title of book or journal, volume, issue, and page. All the literature is peer-reviewed and can be trusted.
6 ResearchGate ResearchGate provides more than 135 million publication pages. The tool is an excellent solution to keep up with the latest research news. It allows sharing your research with peers, collaborating with them across the continents, and asking for expert support. You can as well track how many people have read or referenced your work.
7 Wiley Online Library Here you can access an extensive collection of books and reference resources during 48 hours on a pay-per-view basis. Many articles are available for paid download for lifetime use. It can be done without a subscription. Through this resource, you can find reliable user guides, training videos, and webinars.

3.3. Discipline-Oriented Libraries

If you are working in a narrow scientific field, multidisciplinary libraries may not meet your expectations and needs. Besides, if various disciplines discuss your research question, the search for references becomes a daunting task. Then you should explore discipline-oriented libraries. They function just like any other digital library but provide access to works in only one area of knowledge.

1 Project MUSE Johns Hopkins University hosts this web resource. It mainly focuses on digital articles and book chapters on humanities and social sciences.
2 PubMed Central The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine offers PubMed Central. This is a free source for almost 4 million academic articles on biology and medicine.
3 IEEE Xplore This is the place to start if your research focuses on any of the many engineering fields.
4 arXiv Cornell University’s arXiv is the most extensive collection of open-source papers in mathematical fields. Subjects range from physics to statistics and finance.

3.4. Dissertation Databases

Ph.D. theses are usually written by young scientists. They are interested in being cited as much as possible, as it raises their researcher’s status. For this reason, top universities allow free access to Masters’ and Ph.D. papers written by their students. You can use these databases in your research.

1 PQDT Open Proquest is the most extensive open-access dissertation database. It provides full-text versions of theses & dissertations on a range of disciplines.
2 MIT Theses This archive contains every dissertation and thesis completed at MIT since 2004. But some date back to the 1800s. The complete collection contains more than 50000 texts.
3 Stanford University Libraries The graduate work of over a hundred thousand Stanford students is searchable from anywhere in the world.
4 UColorado Libraries Since 1997, the University of Colorado has archived every one of their Ph.D. dissertations here.
5 IDEALS At the University of Illinois, students have the option of depositing their theses on IDEALS. And you have the option of searching for their dissertations!
6 FAS Theses & Dissertations Last but not least, check out Harvard’s archive of dissertations begun in 2012. It’s one of the most famous universities in the world for a very good reason.

4.  Research Tools for Data Analysis

Data analysis is an essential part of any empirical research. It requires discipline-specific skills and knowledge of research instruments. Below you can find just a small share of data analysis tools available online or downloadable for most operating systems.

1 MS Excel Many people know it, but few of us can use its functionality. Its principal benefit is that this program is available in the MS Office package. It is an old tool, but it is the best for simple statistics, customizable graphics, and data visualization.
2 SPSS SPSS or Statistical Package for the Social Sciences is the most popular statistical software among human behavior researchers. It allows for parametric and non-parametric studies, descriptive statistics, and graphic visualization of the findings. You can also write scripts for automated analysis or more advanced statistical research.
3 R-project This package is free and widely used in many disciplines. Its toolboxes (or plugins) simplify any data processing. The functionality is the best among similar software solutions. It requires a certain knowledge of coding. Still, you can discuss any issues with the extended community that builds and improves the package.
4 Stata Stata is more functional than SPSS but simpler than R. Detailed user guides and tons of valuable information on forums can help you resolve almost any issue. This paid software is available for any platform. It is user-friendly and easily automated.

5.  Data Visualization Tools

When your research findings are ready, the worst thing you can do is pour all the statistical data on your future readers. Visualization of all those percentages, ratios, and correlations makes your paper engaging and easy to follow. Respect your reader’s time and try not to turn your research paper into a quiz.

1 Google Charts This is an excellent and totally free example of data visualization tools. Its interactive charts are explicitly designed to be embedded online. It offers a wide range of chart formats to choose from. The most significant benefit is its ability to work with dynamic data. However, Google Charts have limited support, namely tutorials and forum discussions.
2 Tableau Tableau astonishes with the number of data uploading options. Besides, it has a desktop, online, and free public versions. Unlike Google Charts, it has multiple video tutorials, so only the lazy will not master it. Still, its paid versions are expensive (about $70), and the public version does not permit you to keep your data private.
3 Infogram Infogram has a free version offering basic functionality and tiered pricing for the paid version. Its drag-and-drop editor is user-friendly and intuitive. The tool allows for interactive visualizations to be integrated into websites and apps. Its drawback is the small number of built-in data sources, as compared to other programs.
4 D3.js This is a free, open-source JavaScript library to manage data documents. People without programming skills can easily use software tools to create visualizations. Multiple types of charts and a customizable interface make it convenient and understandable. Still, programming knowledge will be beneficial when working with this software.

6.  Tools to Organize Your Research Process

Good organization is something needed on every research step. Below is a list of the most useful organizational tools for scholars.

1 Scrivener This tool unites the functions of a typewriter, ring-binder, and scrapbook. The trial version lasts for 30 days and includes all the features of the full version. This period is enough to understand whether you enjoy working in this program and complete a short project. It provides you with multiple methods of how to enjoy your research.
2 Zotero This is a excellent option for theoretical research that includes numerous citations. It is an open-source program facilitating the process of quoting and indicating the sources. It also collects and structures your information. These structures are tagged with keywords, which is very convenient for large-scale projects. Zotero has a function that creates a bibliography in any citation style.
3 Mendeley Mendeley creates a personal library directly from your browser tabs and desktop files. In a few clicks, you can generate citations and references to your library list. It has a function of personalized recommendations to stay informed about the newest research results. Besides, here you can browse information about more than 5’000 funding organizations and their grants.

Most people work with the software they are used to, ignoring the new and more functional alternatives. It is often rewarding to invest your time into exploring a new tool than to research and write your thesis in the same old way. Share your opinion about the described instruments in the comments and suggest your favorite ones!

Source: custom-writing.org

Published in Online Research

In the technology world, one of the major talking points centers on the challenges regarding consumer data privacy. There is no coherent approach, however, and many people have strong, and differing, opinions about privacy.
The consumer privacy debate pervades most things businesses and consumers do (even if many consumers are unaware). Taking 2021, this is seen with Apple's new strong stance on data privacy and how it’s impacting advertising, with the California Consumer Protection Act, and how Internet cookies are being phased out, people.

Many people remain unclear as to what they can do to ensure their data stays private. To gain some tips on what can be considered, Digital Journal caught up with Don Vaughn, Invisibly’s Head of Product.

Vaughn provides Digital Journal readers with the following suggestions for consumers that want to keep their data private.

Get a virtual private network (VPN)

A virtual private network provides a strong degree of privacy, anonymity, and security for people by creating a private network connection. Vaughn recommends: "People and companies can spy on what websites you’re visiting, where you are located, and your computer’s identification number. You can stop them by using a virtual private network) which protects your information and makes it look like you’re browsing using a computer somewhere else. "

Use a private search engine

Vaughn points out: "Google makes money by tracking you, collecting as much information as possible on you, and then sells your attention using adverts based on that." Instead a private search engine and be used, and Vaughn recommends using DuckDuckGo."
With such systems, there is very little risk that your searches will be leaked to anyone because most private search engines do not track any information that can link a user to their search terms.

Tune-up your privacy settings

Looking at this often neglected area, Vaughn proposes: "We leave a data trail about us every time we use social media. Most companies let us choose what should or should not be shared and others even let us choose what data should be deleted." To counter this, it is important that users manage their privacy settings for each social media site they use.

Have a Backup ”Public” Email or Unsubscribe From Unwanted Emails

Vaughn's communications tip runs: "When you provide your email address to a company, many times you end up being bombarded with marketing emails and spam. While many services offer an opt-out checkbox for marketing emails, it's easy to forget to do this every time we enter our email online." It is important to unsubscribe from these services.
Expanding upon this, Vaughn notes: "If you use a bulk unsubscribe email service, make sure you are using a safe service. Some free services could collect and sell your data. If you are willing to pay for such a service, as an example, Clean Email is safe and does not sell their user’s data."
Check Permissions
Vaughn's final tip goes: "Most apps and browser extensions have a list of permissions that you sign off on when you start using that service. Sometimes, permissions are required for a service to work. By double-checking the permissions an app has access to, you could be stopping an app from accessing certain data it doesn’t have to access."

[Source: This article was published in digitaljournal.com By Tim Sandle - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]  

Published in Internet Privacy

Most web browsers access your geographic location via your IP address to serve local search results. Your browser may also have permission to use your device’s built-in camera and microphone. It’s certainly convenient, but it’s a huge security risk.

Here is a list of browser security settings you need to check now.

Browser cookies, extensions, and software bugs can slow your internet connection speeds to a crawl. Use these proven tricks to speed up Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.

A browser is your gateway to the web and the cybercriminals looking to take advantage of you. If you’re ready to make a move to a more privacy-focused browser or see if yours makes my list, keep reading.

Best overall browser for privacy: Brave

If you’re fed up with trackers, ads, and data-hungry bits of code that follow you across the internet, Brave is the browser for you. Brave’s servers don’t see or store your browsing data, so it stays private until you delete it. That means your info is never packaged up and sold to advertisers.

The browser’s default settings block harmful junk like malware, phishing, and malicious advertising and plug-ins that could harm your computer.

Advertising and trackers are blocked by default. Because of all it stops, Brave says it is three times faster than Chrome overall and loads major sites up to six times faster than its competitors. 

Brave is free to use, but you can turn on Brave Rewards to give back to the sites you visit most.  Once enabled,  "privacy-respecting" ads will show to support the content you see. Your browsing history remains private.

What about user experience? It runs on the Chromium source code, which powers Google Chrome, so it will likely feel familiar.

Download Brave for free here. It’s also available as an app on Apple and Android devices.

Best browser for customizable privacy: Firefox

Mozilla’s Firefox bills itself as a fast browser that “doesn’t sell you out.” Detecting a theme here? Firefox collects very little data, and you don’t even need to give your email address to download it.

It also blocks trackers by default, so you don't have any settings to change.

The customization features make Firefox stand out. You can use global protection levels, such as "Strict" or "Standard" or go the custom route. You can choose precisely which trackers and scripts Firefox blocks to get the experience you want.

When it comes to privacy, it’s got many bells and whistles: a built-in password manager, breached website alerts, Private Browsing mode, and secure form autofill.

Firefox is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux, and smartphones to make it easy to sync across all your devices. Take Firefox for a test drive on your computer by clicking here. Or click to download it for Apple or Android.

Best browser for maximum security: Tor

If you’re super security-focused, you probably already use a virtual private network or VPN. Want even more anonymity? Turn to Tor. This name started as an acronym for "The Onion Router," and it's popular among computer-savvy circles.

Tor runs your connection through multiple servers across the globe before you reach your destination. Your data is encrypted between each “node,” adding layers of protection – hence the onion logo.

Tor has been used for illegal activity online, but the software itself is perfectly legal and shouldn’t pose any problems. It’s often the route into the Dark Web.

Tor runs on a modified version of the Firefox browser. You can download Tor here.

Best browser for privacy on Mac: Safari

Many people use the browser that came with their computer as a matter of convenience. If you've got a Mac, this is a good thing. Safari blocks cross-site tracking that lets you enjoy the sites you use most without worrying about being followed.

Safari uses Google as its default search browser, which blocks malicious websites and protects you from malware and phishing scams. It blocks pop-ups, too.

Safari’s built-in password manager (Keychain) lets you know if a site you saved was involved in a data breach and helps you change your password. Download Safari here, directly from Apple.

Alternative option: Microsoft Edge

Microsoft said so long to Internet Explorer, and the new Edge is a robust browser with lots of built-in privacy features. It, too, runs on Chromium and feels a lot like Google Chrome.

Edge offers protection from trackers and blocks ad providers from monitoring your activity and learning more about you.

Choose the level of restriction you prefer from three settings, and you can decide which sites to block or not on a case-by-case basis. Want to know what Edge is blocking for a particular site? Click the lock icon to the left of the URL, then click Trackers for a list.

Edge’s built-in Password Monitor will alert you if you visit a compromised website and prompt you to change your password to a stronger one. You can make your own or use a suggested password.

[Source: This article was published in usatoday.com By Kim Komando - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila] 
Published in Search Engine

By now, you’re probably familiar with common advice surrounding online passwords. Don’t use a sequence of numbers. Don’t use your name. Don’t reuse the same password for all of your accounts.

And yet, despite the stress on such tips by experts year after year, most people ignore them.

Some 81% of hacking-related data breaches stem from poor password security, according to Verizon’s 2017 data breach investigations report. And with the rise of remote work and learning in the wake of the pandemic, it’s a bad habit that needs to be squashed. That starts by knowing what not to do.

ID Agent, a dark web monitoring company owned by IT software company Kaseya, says it identified the most common stolen passwords found on the dark web in 2020 based on a scan of nearly 3 million passwords.

What’s the dark web, you ask? The dark web is a part of the deep web, an area of the internet that doesn’t get indexed and cannot be found by a search engine.

“The dark web can only be accessed through a specific browser that provides anonymity to its users,” said Mike Puglia, chief strategy officer for Kaseya. “Though not all content on the dark web is malicious, cybercriminals use the dark web for various illegal purposes, including the sale of stolen credentials.”

20 Most Common Passwords Found On The Dark Web

Based on the top 250 passwords they discovered on the dark web, ID Agent said the most common categories used to generate those passwords include sequential strings of numbers, names, sports references, famous people or characters, and more.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans use a person’s name or birthday in their passwords, while 33% include a pet’s name and 22% use their own name, the company said. The average user also reused their bad password 14 times.

Here’s a look at the top 20 passwords found on the dark web in 2020:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. 12341234
  5. 1asdasdasdasd
  6. Qwerty123
  7. Password1
  8. 123456789
  9. Qwerty1
  10. :12345678secret
  11. Abc123
  12. 111111
  13. stratfor
  14. lemonfish
  15. sunshine
  16. 123123123
  17. 1234567890
  18. Password123
  19. 123123
  20. 1234567

The analysis also identified the most common words used within various categories of passwords. For instance, it found that “maggie” was the most common name among the top 250 passwords on the dark web. Sports lovers like to include the word “baseball” most often in their passwords. “Newyork” was found the most often among cities that were used, and “cookie” was the most common food word.

How To Avoid Having Your Password Hacked

Worried your password is too similar to some of those mentioned above? In order to protect yourself against identity theft, data breaches, and other fraud, it’s crucial to create passwords that can’t be guessed by cybercriminals. Here are a few ways to do that.

Don’t use names.

It might seem a bit obvious, but putting your name ― or the name of a close family member ― in your password makes it much easier for hackers to guess. In fact, at least 92 of the top 250 most common passwords found by ID agents were first names or variations of first names. Instead, come up with a nonsensical phrase that only you would know.

Mix up your numbers.

Notice how many of the top passwords found on the dark web were some variation of “123?” Thirty-five of the top 250 most common passwords, including 12 of the top 20, contained sequential numbers. Don’t make it that easy for hackers. “Individuals should create passwords that include a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters that are non-sequential,” Puglia said.

Create a unique password for every account.

If you reuse the same password for every account, you make it that much easier for criminals to hit the jackpot if they figure out what it is. According to Puglia, about 39% of people say most of their passwords across both their work and home applications are identical. If you can’t think of that many unique passwords, password generators can help with that. Google Chrome has the function built in, or you can try tools such as passwordgenerators.net or LastPass.

Use a password manager.

Puglia said that the average U.S. adult has between 90 and 135 different applications that require a set of credentials. Clearly, no one could memorize that many. “The best way to keep track of numerous passwords is to use a secure password manager,” he said. These tools prevent you from storing passwords on your phone or tablet, a common habit that makes it easier for cybercriminals to get their hands on your credentials. Some options include LastPass, Keeper Security, or 1Password.

[Source: This article was published in huffpost.com By Casey Bond - Uploaded by the Association Member: Clara Johnson]

Published in Deep Web

Google Search Console is changing how Core Web Vitals are measured and reported on, which is likely to be a positive thing for site owners.

Going forward, the metrics defining the boundaries for largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS) are now defined as = (less than or equal to).

Previously the boundaries for each of the Core Web Vitals were defined as (less than).

That meant the Google Search Console report would only show a “good” rating if measurements were under the ideal thresholds.

Site owners can now achieve a “good” rating if measurements meet the ideal thresholds.

For example, an ideal measurement for LCP was previously defined as less than 2.5 seconds. If LCP was recorded at exactly 2.5 seconds then the site owner would see a “needs improvement” rating in Search Console.

That is no longer the case. Now that same site will receive a “good” rating.

Google’s changelog notes site owners will likely see positive changes as a result of this update: “Therefore you might see a change in statuses (for the better) in this report.”

To refresh everyone’s understanding of what it takes to meet Google’s Core Web Vitals thresholds, refer to the updated verbiage below:

  • Largest Contentful Paint: The time it takes for a page’s main content to load. An ideal LCP measurement is less than or equal to 2.5 seconds.
  • First Input Delay: The time it takes for a page to become interactive. An ideal measurement is less than or equal to 100 ms.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift: The amount of unexpected layout shift of visual page content. An ideal measurement is less than or equal to 0.1.

Now would be a good time to review the Core Web Vitals report in Search Console to see where your site stands.

The rollout of Core Web Vitals as a ranking factor is still months away, but it’s never to early to start preparing.

Core Web Vitals will become ranking signals in May 2021. Google’s John Mueller has hinted at the fact that thresholds for all three Core Web Vitals may need to be met in order to benefit from the ranking boost. To optimize for all three rather than one or two.

Sites that meet the threshold for all three Core Web Vitals may also receive a special badge in Google search results, communicating to searchers that the site provides an optimal user experience.

Whether Google will go through with rolling out a badge in search results is undetermined at this point. But it’s 100% confirmed Core Web Vitals will be ranking factors.

Expect more information from Google as we get closer to May.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jason bourne] 

Published in Search Engine

With Google threatening to pull out of Australia, the founder of a search engine that plants trees when people search believes his platform can help fill this potential void as an ethical alternative.

Ecosia is a search engine based in Germany that uses ad revenue from searches to fund reforestation projects around the world.

The social business was founded by Christian Kroll in 2009 and has so far helped plant more than 119 million trees.

Kroll told Pro Bono News he first became interested in social business models when he was travelling through Nepal and tried starting a search engine that would finance development projects. 

While this was unsuccessful, he said he learnt a lot and it helped renew his focus on using tech for good. 

“After Nepal I travelled through South America, where I saw the devastation caused by massive deforestation and learnt the critical role of trees in reducing carbon, combating hunger and poverty, and restoring biodiversity,” Kroll said.

“When I returned to Berlin in 2009, I started Ecosia with my sister and a couple of friends. We knew from the start that we wanted to put our profits into ecological conservation projects and tree-planting was a natural choice.” 

Today, Ecosia – which uses Bing’s search technology – has around 15 million active users.

In Australia, it makes up just 0.22 per cent of the search engine market.

Google meanwhile holds more than 94 per cent of the market share.

But with the company threatening to pull out of the Australian market due to proposed media bargaining code laws, Kroll believes Ecosia could help fill the search engine void.

“Ecosia already has a strong base in Australia – we’re seeing over 7 million searches made on Ecosia by Australians each month, and users is up 30 per cent year-on-year,” he said.

“[But] there’s still plenty of room to grow. If a large number of [internet] users switched over, it would make a huge difference to the number of trees we’d be able to plant.

“It’s now in the hands of ordinary Australians who can help plant change through their everyday internet searches.”    

Ecosia was the first German company to become a B Corporation and has consistently been rated among the top-performing B Corps in the world.

Kroll said meeting the highest standards of verified social impact performance was incredibly important given Ecosia’s mission to centre people before profit.

He said transparency was central to this, noting that Ecosia has been publishing its financial reports since 2014 to keep it accountable to users.

“Social impact is a thread that runs through everything we do,” he said.

“Whether it’s releasing a new product, considering green investments, or sharing content on our platforms, we aim to cultivate a more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable world.” 

Ecosia funded the planting of 26,000 trees in the Byron Bay region last year with local partner ReForest Now and has just signed a contract to double this figure.

Kroll said Ecosia was more than 350 per cent renewable in 2020, producing enough renewable energy through the seven solar power plants it has built to power its searches and help to push dirty energy out of the grid.

He also said the company has strong privacy protections.

“We’re privacy-friendly, searches are never stored permanently, no personal profiles are created based on search history, and all searches are securely encrypted and anonymised within days,” he said. 

“Ecosia also never uses external tracking tools and never sells data to advertisers.

“Hopefully that’s enough to convince all Australians to use Ecosia and help us to regenerate the planet.”

[Source: This article was published in probonoaustralia.com.au By Luke Michael - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]
Published in Search Engine

This may form part of the social media guidelines currently underway by the IT Ministry and could be out soon.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok may have to scramble for developing an account identity-verification option to check "fake news, malicious content, misinformation, racial slurs, gender abuse that may have an impact on the individual and society as a whole." This may form part of the social media guidelines currently underway by the IT Ministry and could be out soon. "The work is in progress, we have sent it to the Law Ministry for vetting," said a source.

The IT Ministry is learned to have finalized the social media guidelines to check misinformation, malicious info, and gender-biased views and have sent them to the Law Ministry for vetting it where account holder verification could be made mandatory.

The new draft personal data protection Bill has proposed social media intermediaries to enable "voluntary verification" of user accounts. The method for this, as suggested in the bill, is that these verified users should be given a demonstrable and visible mark of verification which is akin to biometric or physical identification which is publicly visible to all users.

If this is implemented, then this verification system would be different from the existing verified accounts category on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.

The security check user account verification will be developed by the social media company.

Another major change that may come up is in the definition of the "significant data fiduciary" based on the volume of personal data they possess because there is a feeling that big or small, any incorrect or fake information through even a small social media platform has the potential to multiply the fake news irrespective of the volume of personal data it holds.

Therefore, there may be another layer included for those social media companies who don't have volumes of personal data, but they can affect the democratic nature of the country.

Under Section 26 of the 2019 Bill, certain thresholds in terms of volume of personal data processed, the sensitivity of personal data processed, risk of harm, etc are specified, upon satisfaction of which, the Data Protection Authority may notify a data fiduciary as a "significant data fiduciary" (social media companies).

This provision in the data privacy Bill is only applicable to "significant" social media platforms. The significant status of a company is determined by the Central government on the basis of the number of users and the potential impact that these companies can have on Indian democracy and the country's security and general harmony. But this may change, said sources.

A social media intermediary has been defined as a body that primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services.

Earlier, there was a proposal to link social media accounts with Aadhaar to trail the real source of fake news, but the nodal agency for UIDAI shot down the proposal, saying Aadhaar is meant for the distribution of government welfare benefits not catching culprits which is a policing job.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad later said there is no proposal to link social media accounts of individuals to Aadhaar.

With the rise in fake news and hate speeches online, the need for verification of social media accounts has been felt for a while. This became even more pronounced following a series of lynching incidents over religious issues. Earlier this year, Facebook reported taking down 2.19 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, a significant hike from 1.2 bn accounts in Q4 of 2018.

[Source: This article was published in gadgets.ndtv.com  - Uploaded by the Association Member: James Gill]

Published in Internet Privacy

Sometime in late 2019, I became increasingly more concerned with personal privacy. I’ve never been the type of person to lean into sharing details with companies when I didn’t need to, but I became aware of the ways I was “leaking” data to companies. One of the easiest things I did to help curtail some of the data I was sharing was changing my default web search to DuckDuckGo, and after a year of using it, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on it.

Table of contents

  • Google is better, but I still use DuckDuckGo
  • DuckDuckGo is using Bing results with extra data added
  • Changing your default is easy
  • Google isn’t selling your data
  • Should Apple buy DuckDuckGo?
  • Wrap up on DuckDuckGo as my default search

Google is better, but I still use DuckDuckGo

One of the opinions I’ve heard from others about switching to DuckDuckGo is that they believe Google provides better search results. I agree with them, but that hasn’t changed my opinion. Google is the best search engine globally, and there is no changing that fact. Just because it’s the best doesn’t mean it’s good to use. Facebook is the best way to stay connected to people, but I still don’t want to use it.

If you want the best search results, then use Google. If you want excellent search results that aren’t used to target you with better ads, use DuckDuckGo. For me, I’ve decided that protecting my privacy is a worthy trade-off for slightly worse search results. I still generally find what I am looking for when searching.

DuckDuckGo is using Bing results with extra data added

DuckDuckGo isn’t crawling the web in the same way that Google crawls it. Yes, they do have some crawlers, but they use a host of data they pull together in such a way where you aren’t tracked by it. Some of the search results are pulled in from Bing, while others are populated from Apple Maps, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha, etc. It’s estimated that they use over 400 sources in total to populate their data. I personally like this approach of sourcing data from multiple places in order to provide better results.

I particularly like the integration with Apple Maps on iPhone as I can quickly search for a place and then launch the directions in Apple Maps. Google Search obviously integrates with Google Maps, and that’s yet another service I’ve chosen not to use.

Although DuckDuckGo has sponsored search results, they aren’t based on targeted data they know about you. On top of that, Google’s search results have, in my use, started showing increasingly more ads above the organic results, so it’s become even harder to use. DuckDuckGo lets me quickly find what I need.

Changing your default is easy

While Apple still ships Google as the default browser search engine, it’s straightforward to switch to DuckDuckGo as your default. On the Mac, there is a tab in your preferences for default search in Safari.

Changing your default is easy

On iOS, go to Setting > Safari > Search Engine, and you’ll see the option to switch to DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo 1

Now, all of your Safari searches will be routed through DDG instead of Google. I have the DuckDuckGo homepage set as my default homepage on the Mac as it loads super fast with only a search window.

Google isn’t selling your data

A common misconception with Google (and Facebook) is that they collect all of this information and then “sell” it to other companies. The truth is your data is so valuable that they want to be the only ones that have it. They sell access to your data by letting companies advertise to use in a targeted way based on the data Google and Facebook knows about you. For some people, that’s a fair trade. They love Facebook and Google’s services enough that they’re willing to trade that data for access to free services.

I was willing to do that for a long time, but today, I am not. I’ve personally been off of Facebook since 2009 and Instagram from 2016. I use iCloud for my personal email. I’ve started using ‘Sign in with Apple’ whenever possible when signing up for new services. When I am on Wi-Fi networks that I don’t manage, I use a VPN service to protect my privacy. I want to use services that aren’t interesting in knowing who I am in order to better target me with ads.

Should Apple buy DuckDuckGo?

I’ve seen this comment floated around the tech community for years, and while it’s an excellent idea, I don’t think it’s needed. DuckDuckGo’s mission aligns nicely with Apple’s mission of protecting personal privacy. Apple should be making more aggressive moves to teach its users about your search history, though.

Apple’s problem is they make billions each year from Google from being the default search provider. I don’t think Apple should change the default, not for privacy reasons, but from a user experience reason. If Apple set DDG as the default search provider in iOS 15, it would create chaos for Apple Support as people would be confused about what was happening. What Apple should do is when Safari is launched for the first time, asking users which search engine they want to use. Under the icon for DDG, there should be a mention that they don’t track you, store identifiable information, etc. Doing this would undoubtedly cause many people to switch, but they would be choosing to change so they’d understand the experience.

Wrap up on DuckDuckGo as my default search

I didn’t think to write this article until recently as I’ve become so used to having DuckDuckGo as my provider that it stopped seeming different. In my head, I replaced one search engine for another. In reality, I traded a search engine that wants to know more about me to one that actively works to avoid knowing anything about me.

The older I get, the more I turn into Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec in terms of privacy. The right to privacy is something I place more importance on as the years go by. The more we rely on technology to power our lives, the easier it is for companies to think they have the right to know as much about us as possible. Changing your default search engine to DuckDuckGo is an easy first step to taking back your privacy. Give it a shot for 30 days to see how easy is it to take back a small part of your privacy.

 [Source: This article was published in 9to5mac.com By Bradley Chambers - Uploaded by the Association Member: Eric Beaudoin]
Published in Search Engine

One of the recent issues that have emerged within the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is that of bias in computer vision. Many experts are now discovering bias within AI systems, leading to skewed results in various different applications, such as courtroom sentencing programs.

There is a large effort going forward attempting to fix some of these issues, with the newest development coming from Princeton University. Researchers at the institution have created a new tool that is able to flag potential biases in images that are used to train AI systems.

The work was presented on Aug. 24 at the virtual European Conference on Computer Vision. 

Bias in AI Systems

One of the major reasons for the bias present in current AI systems is that they are often trained on large sets of images coming from online sources. These images can be stereotypical, and when they go toward developing computer vision, the result can be unintentionally influenced by models. Computer vision is what enables computers to identify people, objects, and actions. 

The tool that was developed by the researchers is open-source, and it is capable of automatically revealing potential biases in visual data sets. It works by taking action before the image sets are used to train the computer vision models, and issues surrounding underrepresentation and stereotypes can be remedied before they cause an effect. 

REVISE

The new tool is called REVISE, and it relies on statistical methods to identify potential biases in a data set. It focuses on the three areas of object-based, gender-based and geography-based. 

REVISE is fully automatic and was built upon previous methods that included filtering and balancing data set images so that the user could have more control. 

The new tool relies on existing image annotations and measurements to analyze the content within a data set. Some of those existing annotations include object count and countries of origin for the images.

In one example of the tool working, REVISE showed how images of both people and flowers were different depending on gender. Males were more likely to appear with flowers in ceremonies or meetings, and females were more likely to appear with flowers in paintings or staged scenarios.

Olga Russaskovsky is an assistant professor of computer science and principal investigator of the Visual AI Lab. The paper was co-authored with graduate student Angelina Wang and associate professor of computer science, Arvind Narayanan.

After the tool identifies discrepancies, “then there’s the question of whether this is a totally innocuous fact, or something deeper is happening, and that’s very hard to automate,” Russaskovsky said. 

Underrepresented or Misrepresented Regions

Various regions around the world are underrepresented in computer vision data sets, and this can lead to bias in AI systems. One of the findings was that a dramatically larger amount of images come from the United States and European countries. REVISE also revealed that images from other parts of the world often do not have image captions in the local language, meaning many could come from a tourist’s view of a nation. 

“…this geography analysis shows that object recognition can still be quite biased and exclusionary and can affect different regions and people unequally,” Russaskovsky continued. 

“Data set collection practices in computer science haven’t been scrutinized that thoroughly until recently,” said Wang.  When it comes to image collection, they are “scraped from the internet, and people don’t always realize that their images are being used [in data sets]. We should collect images from more diverse groups of people, but when we do, we should be careful that we’re getting the images in a way that is respectful.”

Vicente Ordonez-Roman is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Virginia. 

“Tools and benchmarks are an important step … they allow us to capture these biases earlier in the pipeline and rethink our problem setup and assumptions as well as data collection practices,” said Ordonez-Roman. “In computer vision, there are some specific challenges regarding representation and the propagation of stereotypes. Works such as those by the Princeton Visual AI Lab help elucidate and bring to the attention of the computer vision community some of these issues and offer strategies to mitigate them.”

The new tool developed by the researchers is an important step to help remedy the bias present in AI systems. Now is the time to fix these issues, as it will become much more difficult as the system progress and get more complex. 

[Source: This article was published in unite.ai By Alex McFarland - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]
Published in Internet Technology

The process of getting your social media accounts verified is mysterious and extremely desirable. For those who don’t know, social media verification is when your account handle has a blue check next to it. You will see A-list celebrities, athletes, musicians, successful brands, and top social media personalities with the blue verified account checks. Simply put, the blue check signifies massive credibility and digital fame.

What most people don’t understand is what it actually takes to qualify and receive the blue check. A few months ago, my TikTok account and personal Instagram account were verified. Here is how it happened. 

Four years ago, I created a liquor brand with my two best friends. The marketing and branding plan was to create an exciting and engaging social media presence. We saw that the liquor industry was largely boring and run by traditional executives who did not understand social media or modern-day digital marketing. While we were building the brand, I became a social media expert and developed a deep understanding of what it would take to become successful. I also took content creation to the next level with unique-point-of-view videos using GoPros. Instead of traditional industry content, we leveraged people and an exciting lifestyle to position the brand. The success of the brand earned me frequent news interviews, a newspaper column, and many interviews in major publications.

During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, I became frustrated with the ever-increasing pay-to-play growth and engagement models of most social media platforms. So, I decided to get serious about TikTok. It seemed to be the only platform where huge organic growth was still possible. This paid off big. My video style was working for the audience, and I began growing quickly. My account has gone from 2,000 followers to almost 100,000 followers. A few videos early on had over 10,000 views, then 50,000 views, 100,000 views, and 500,000 views — and now, many have over 1,000,000 views. 

During a flight when I was flying a privately owned fighter jet trainer, I passed out from the massive G-forces. This video immediately went viral. It had over 3 million views within a few weeks. I decided to license the video, and it really exploded immediately after that. The Daily Mail featured the video, and then many other news sources and social media accounts followed suit. Currently, the video has over 50 million total views across all digital platforms. The Daily Mail article headline directly referenced my TikTok account and that the video had 3 million views. One week later, I opened up my TikTok, and there it was: the blue check.

After my TikTok account was verified, I opened my Instagram app, took a picture of my driver's license, and submitted it directly to Instagram for verification. Within a few hours, there it was: the blue check.

So what does it take to get your social media accounts verified? The answer is generally to be an A-list celebrity or be a leader in your industry who gains massive press and extremely viral content. If you don’t have the above, there is no third-party service I know of that can help you get a blue check. Do not fall for the rampant verification scam services out there. 

If you want to get your social media accounts verified, start off by identifying your unique skill sets and expertise. Next, work hard to become a leader in your field of expertise. Start sharing this expertise and provide value to those around you. Share your ideas on social media and work to get published in small publications. Then, small publications can become large publications.

Next, leverage your skill sets and share them in creative ways on social media. This will take time but can pay off in huge dividends. I never wanted to start a TikTok account, but I learned this was the only place I could quickly grow a massive audience. Spend time mastering social media and staying ahead of the trends. This even includes moving on to new platforms when they launch.

Now, go work on taking your content to the next level, earning major press, and getting your social media accounts verified.

[Source: This article was published in forbes.com By Alex Kowtun - Uploaded by the Association Member: Deborah Tannen] 
Published in Investigative Research
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