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The internet doesn't have an off switch. While it's interesting to imagine pressing a big red button and -- poof! -- the internet goes out around the world, it's actually much more complicated than that.

It is possible, however, for people, companies and governments to turn off certain parts of the internet. There are countrywide blocks in places like Egypt and Gabon during political unrest, and temporary outages in India when the government turns off the internet while students take exams.

Facebook (FBTech30) tracks these kinds of outages. Both internal monitoring and people on the ground contribute to this effort.

Matt Perault, global head of policy development at Facebook, started there in January 2011 -- around the time Egypt conducted widespread internet outages to quell protests. Over the next few years, he noticed that internet blocks were still happening with some frequency, just on a smaller scale.

"We felt they weren't getting the attention they deserved," Perault said during a panel at the SXSW Interactive festival on Friday. "So we work with a bunch of organizations to try and bring attention to this issue."

It's not just about losing access to Facebook. For instance, he referenced a recent Brookings report that found that temporary internet shutdowns cost $2.4 billion in 2015.

 

You can think about the internet in three different layers: There's the actual infrastructure that powers the internet -- think cables and satellites. There's the protocol, which includes things like web hosts and providers, and then there are applications, like Facebook.

Each of these layers have different responsibilities, as Perault and his fellow panelists explained, and countries or governments can target them differently. An internet service provider could stop serving a country, or a government could block specific services like Facebook or WhatsApp.

In China, the "great firewall" blocks all kinds of content, including Facebook, Twitter, and the New York Times. In Gabon last year, nightly outages prevented people from connecting to any website.

"The problem is not the technology from a 'turn off the entire internet perspective,'" Perault said. "But the technology has gotten more advanced in creating methods to impose a less costly block."

Facebook's internal group works with organizations like the Global Network Initiative to track these outages, and communicate them to a wider audience. Four out of five Facebook users are outside of the U.S., so many of them could be impacted by these blocks. For Facebook, figuring out where blocks happen is just good for business.

Facebook said it is "aware of at least 48 times in 2016 when access to Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram was disrupted. This includes both targeted disruptions, as well those impacting the entire Internet."

The company said one of the most significant outages that it's tracking right now is in certain regions of Cameroon, where it said internet connectivity has been down for 50 days.

"My main concern right now is moving to a world where there's increasingly sophisticated small-scale blocks," Perault said.

Author : Selena Larson

Source : http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/12/technology/facebook-internet-blocks-kill-switch/

Categorized in Social

One of the men accused of running the Hamilton Ponzi scheme is no stranger to criminal probes.

In January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton with perpetrating a $97 million Ponzi scheme involving tickets for Hamilton and the planned Broadway run of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Over 138 individuals, including billionaires Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Dell, invested in the suspected scam.

According to the government, the defendants claimed to have an agreement with Jeffrey Seller, the producer of Hamilton, to procure 35,000 tickets to the Tony Award-winning musical. Investor funds were sought in order to purchase the block of tickets, which the two men said would be resold at a profit. The backers were promised the return of their investments within eight months, as well as a 10% annualized return and 50% of residual profits.


In addition, federal authorities allege, the defendants purported to have a similar agreement to buy 250,000 tickets to the planned Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Cash was raised in order to purchase the block of tickets for $62.5 million, and investors were promised the return of their investments and a pro rata share of certain profits.

However, federal authorities insist that the defendants never had a deal with either show, and no investor money was ever used to purchase blocks of tickets. Instead, less than 14% of the funds were used to pay entities engaged in the ticket sales or live entertainment business, and over $74 million was diverted to “to perpetuate a Ponzi scheme and to enrich themselves and certain family members and others.”

The complaint indicates that the entrusted funds were spent on expensive jewelry, private school tuition, summer camps, automobiles, private club memberships, travel expenses and casino bills. One of the men also bought a $3 million house in East Hampton using cash from the scheme.

Paul Ryan, a former government lawyer, told Bloomberg that “the idea that there were blocks of Hamilton tickets available for purchase should have been a giveaway.” No one could get their hands on a large set of tickets.

But, exercising simple due diligence should have revealed another potential red flag. One of the defendants, Matthew Harriton, was reported to be a subject in a large white-collar criminal investigation two decades ago.

His father, Richard Harriton, was banned from the securities sector back in 2000 for helping a boiler-room business stay afloat while evading its net capital requirements. He served as the president of Bear Stearns' clearing subsidiary firm, and the government found that, “[t]o protect [the subsidiary] from having to absorb large losses, [the subsidiary], at Harriton's direction, charged unauthorized trades to [A.R.] Baron customers, liquidated property in customer accounts to pay for unauthorized trades, refused to return customer property that had been liquidated to pay for unauthorized trades and disregarded customer instructions.” But, like most defendants, Richard Harriton did not admit or deny the findings in his settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

One of the other brokerage firms which cleared its trades through Richard Harriton at Bear Stearns was Sterling Foster, which defrauded thousands of customers, and inspired the popular crime film Boiler Room. Rooney Pace, an old friend of Richard Harriton who was banned from the securities business, secretly controlled the firm and crafted illegal arrangements that allowed insiders to sell their restricted shares in small companies when the firms went public.

The government also alleged that Sterling Foster engaged in rampant stock manipulation, and The New York Times reported that “Mr. Harriton's son Matthew was closely involved in three of the five companies whose shares, prosecutors say, were manipulated by Mr. Pace and his colleagues.” One of the firms, where Matthew Harriton served as the Chief Financial Officer, for instance, raised $5 million in its initial public offering before its stock price plunged from $13.25 to $0.03.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation into Matthew Harriton. “One question has been whether Mr. Pace and some associates granted business favors to the younger Mr. Harriton as part of an effort to get Bear Stearns, through the elder Mr. Harriton, to clear trades for Sterling Foster,” observed The Wall Street Journal.

Nothing ever came of the investigation, and Matthew Harriton was never charged with a crime.

Yet, some of the most sophisticated investors on Wall Street should have taken a moment to peek into his past. Reports of the probe might have made them more skeptical of him and his investment offer that apparently was too good to be true.

Author : Marc Hershberg

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/marchershberg/2017/03/13/internet-search-would-have-revealed-past-probe-into-alleged-broadway-scammer/2/#ac98c23691fd

Categorized in Search Engine

NETRALNEWS.COM - The number of internet users world-wide has roughly doubled in the past eight years to around 3.5 billion. The people who have come aboard in the past few years are spending their time in something that was overshadowed long ago in developed countries by apps: the mobile web browser.

Single-purpose apps like Facebook and Snapchat are the product of markets where monthly data plans and home Wi-Fi are abundant. App stores require email addresses and credit cards, two things many new phone owners just don’t have.

In places like India, Indonesia and Brazil, it’s easy to buy an Android phone for as little as $25—even less for older second-hand (or third-hand) refurbished phones. But there’s likely to be little onboard storage, and the pay-as-you-go data plan is too precious to waste on apps, especially those that send and receive data even when you aren’t using them.

 

Browsers are popular again, not just because typing a URL has become simpler, but also because they work harder to compensate for the nature of wireless access in emerging markets.

Southeast Asia, South Asia, South America, Mexico and Africa are all areas where the dominant browsers—Alibaba’s UC Browser, Opera Mini by Opera Software and Google Chrome from Alphabet Inc.—have the ability to compress browsing data, by up to 90% in some cases, so people burn up as little as possible. UC Browser and Opera Mini also have robust built-in ad blocking, further cutting down on data costs.

On Friday, Jana, a mobile-ad company, entered this browser market with another incentive: free daily data. By delivering 10 megabytes (or about 20 minutes) of free data a day through its mCent Browser, Jana hopes to build a following and pay for it by charging for conventional ads and sponsorship of the browser. It also intends to charge partners to be their browsers’ default search engine.

In terms of the scale of the users they have accumulated—UC Browser had more than 400 million users as of last April—these browser businesses are making a virtue out of the constraints of mobile-telecom systems in rural areas and emerging markets, where infrastructure is generations behind what it might be in richer countries.

As the global middle class continues to rise in emerging markets, browser makers are racking up users nearly as fast as Facebook did in its highest-growth period. And they are figuring out how to keep their users occupied while monetizing them through mobile advertising.

Google, Facebook and other internet giants are well aware of these trends. Two-thirds of Facebook’s users are in emerging markets, and while the company’s Free Basics program—part of Internet.org —was banned in India for favoring some websites over others, it is available in many countries in Africa and South America. And Facebook says it has upward of 200 million users on Facebook Lite, an app for low-bandwidth users.

As for Google, it benefits inherently from rapid global internet adoption, which would be impossible without Android. And while Google’s mobile Chrome browser remains dominant in many emerging markets, it also pays Opera, among others, to direct search traffic to ad-supported Google services.

It’s logical that as people in emerging markets become wealthier and their mobile infrastructure becomes better, they’ll follow the same trends as their richer peers, and their internet consumption will shift to apps. India, with its 1.3 billion people, is projected to increase its per-capita income by 125% by 2025, according to Morgan Stanley.

But for the foreseeable future, Opera, UC Browser and Jana are all betting that the ranks of these “next billion” people coming onto the internet will continue to refresh themselves—and experience constraints that mobile browsers are uniquely capable of alleviating.

“In India, the raw growth numbers are just huge—it’s both a lot more people coming online but also usage, because data is getting cheaper,” says Nuno Sitima, an executive vice president and head of mobile business at Opera Software, founded in 1995 and based in Oslo, Norway; it was sold last year to a consortium of Chinese investors for $575 million.

In terms of new downloads, Africa is growing fastest, Mr. Sitima says, while Southeast Asia, with more than 600 million people, is another huge market for these browsers. For Alibaba, which acquired UCWeb in 2014 for north of $1.9 billion, UC Browser isn’t just a browser, but a beachhead.

The company is rolling out ways to make its browser sticky, like a sprawling, aggregation-fueled news site in India, where it is the No. 1 browser. While mCent Browser is just launching in beta, Nathan Eagle, Jana’s chief executive, says the prospect of free internet is extremely appealing to users in the developing world.

To date, Jana’s core product has been an ad-powered payment system, also called mCent, on which its new browser depends. Basically, mCent pays for the airtime of users who watch ads or redeem promotions. Through relationships with 311 mobile operators in 90 countries, Jana is connected to the billing back-end of more than 4 billion mobile accounts and has leveraged that access for 30 million mCent payment users so far.

Mr. Eagle says he wants to bring a billion more people online. Google and Facebook have been working on the same problem, in part by launching balloons and drones to create airborne communication networks. “The way we’re trying to go about solving the free internet problem is a lot less sexy,” says Mr. Eagle. But by leveraging existing mobile infrastructure, along with the desire of brands like Unilever, a client of Jana’s, to reach customers in emerging markets, he argues his solution is more viable.

After all, which is more likely—getting another billion people online by flying cellular radios over their heads, or by making it more affordable to connect to cell towers that are already in range but whose cost is out of reach?

Source: http://www.en.netralnews.com/news/business/read/2500/web.browsers..not.apps..are.internet.gatekeepers.for.the....next.billion

Categorized in News & Politics

Legislators in Russia have seemingly had enough of major technology firms trying to skirt around its tough domestic data laws, threatening a controversial new penalty for noncompliance: forcing the loading speeds of their websites to a crawl.

Multiple sources, including employees of internet firms and telecommunications providers in the region, told the Vedomosti newspaper today (13 March) the aim of the proposal is to crack down on companies bypassing Russian courts because they are registered abroad.

 

Insiders said the threat to throttle internet access would not only apply to foreign companies, leading some Russian tech chiefs to issue statements – albeit anonymously – pushing back against the plans.

The penalty could have a dramatic impact on services that rely on streaming to operate. The Moscow Times reported the law could be introduced via amendments to "anti-terror" legislation.

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) is said to be one of the federal agencies drafting the proposal – the same department which handed Google a fine of 438 million rubles (£6.5m, $7.4m) for allegedly breaking laws about pre-installed smartphone apps.

Google refused to pay, instead challenging the ruling through the courts.

A source close to the FAS told Vedomosti that Roskomnadzor – Russia's main communications regulator – is participating in developing the new law. Some critics, however, maintained the law is unlikely to be accepted in its current form as it would be difficult to develop and enforce.

"There are a number of foreign internet companies that make money in Russia but do not comply with our laws," complained an unnamed contact reportedly close to the State Duma, which is a section of the nation's parliament, who also said its scope stretched far wider than just Google.

Google logoGoogle is embroiled in ongoing litigation with the Russian government Reuters

Vedomosti reported that a "top manager" at Yandex, the most popular search engine and web portal in Russia, slammed the initiative.

 

"The consequence of the adoption of such a law could be a violation of net neutrality, which will affect all resources, including us," he told the newspaper.

Over the past 12 months, as tensions between the US and the Kremlin escalated amid tit-for-tat accusations over cybercrime, the Russian government made moves to punish LinkedIn for allegedly failing to comply with data laws.

Later, other US-headquartered services, including Google and Apple, were hit with demandsto remove the LinkedIn smartphone application from app stores in Russia.

As previously reported, Roskomnadzor – which is also known as the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications – claimed LinkedIn broke laws by transmitting user data "without consent".

On 7 March, Reuters reported the ban was still in full effect.

"While we believe we comply with all applicable laws, and despite conversations with Roskomnadzor [...] we have been unable to reach an understanding that would see them lift the block on LinkedIn in the Russian Federation," a LinkedIn spokesman told Reuters via email.

In response, Roskomnadzor said LinkedIn's refusal to change its ways only confirmed its "lack of interest in working on the Russian market".

Author : Jason Murdock

Source : http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/russia-may-deliberately-slow-internet-access-foreign-websites-ignoring-its-data-laws-1611284

Categorized in News & Politics

Visitors from all over the world will soon be collecting in Southern Illinois for a few minutes of darkness. No, I’m not talking about Ozzy Osbourne. Of course, like the rest of this month’s SBJ, I’m talking about the 2017 solar eclipse that will have its longest point of duration right here in Southern Illinois.

Make no mistake, while these visitors won’t be physically here for another 174 days, that doesn’t mean they aren’t already here.

You may be asking, “But Nathan, how can someone in London be here already? The eclipse isn’t until August.”

The answer: the internet.

What once took a phonebook, a map or a willingness to risk a bad restaurant or crummy hotel room now takes common internet access. Visitors are already visiting Southern Illinois through their computer screens and smartphones. Visitors are already sampling the food through reviews and pictures and they’re requesting rooms with softer or stiffer pillows. Visitors are pre-planning their driving routes, and when they get to Southern Illinois, their navigator is just a button away.

 

Visitors sure as heck are not using a phone book.

What these visitors are using is TripAdvisor, Facebook and a plethora of other digital resources that will set expectations that we, as a region, need to be ready to fulfill when these visitors arrive. For business owners in the hospitality industry, this means tidying up your digital storefront before visitors start walking through your actual storefront. This means representing your business accurately online so when visitors do walk through your front door their expectations are met, not mauled.

Now that you know the concept of why, let’s talk about how.

Start by searching your business. Regardless of what search engine you personally prefer, search your business on Google. With more than two-thirds of search traffic in the U.S. occurring through Google, it is the undisputed search champion. Additionally, Google offers a lot of free tools to help your business be a champion. Sign up for Google My Business and make sure all of the information for your business is accurate. Are your operating hours correct? Is that address your actual address? Is the first picture you see when you search your business one that best represents your facility?

If your answer to any of these questions is no, then take 20 minutes and claim your listing. Also, and I hear the opposite of this from clients all of the time, answer Google’s telephone call and follow their instructions. When Google calls it’s usually for your benefit, not to sell you something.

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Once you’ve got your Google listing claimed, start focusing on the listing that come up first when you search your business. If Yelp is the first link that displays when you search your business, but there’s not a TripAdvisor link until the second search page, it’s best to focus on Yelp first, but don’t forget to claim your listing on all of the premier listing sites you can think of. While some visitors will be searching using broad sweeping search engines, others will use the site they already belong to to plan their trip. It’s is important for you to be organized and presentable on all of these sites because of this.

Finally, after you’ve claimed these business listings and filled them with accurate information that represents your business honestly, it’s time to show activity. If you’re using Facebook, make sure you’re posting often enough that visitors to your page will know that you’re open. Even though your hours may say you’re open, if you’ve not posted since March 2016, visitors may assume that you’re closed and not visit.

You should also be monitoring customer communications with your business that use any sites that display your business’ information. You don’t have to respond to these reviews or comments if you do not feel confident in your abilities to politely engage your customers, but if you regularly update review sites and other sites that display your business’ information then visitors will know that you’re monitoring your online presence and that you are (hopefully) working to fix any shortfalls that may be outlined in customer reviews or comments.

As a bonus, there are many tourism sites that are providing business listings. Get in touch with Williamson County, Southernmost or Carbondale tourism bureaus and ask about what listing services they have available to local businesses. Some may cost money, but some of these tourism organizations offer services that will cost your business nothing out-of-pocket.

These aren’t just listings, they’re opportunities. They will not only help your business, but our region. Like the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all ships.

Nathan Colombo is a Carbondale native, stand-up comedian, and marketing professional. His small business, Brand Advocacy Group, Inc, provides digital media services for other small, local businesses in and around Southern Illinois.

Author : NATHAN

Source : http://thesouthern.com/business/southern-business-journal/social-media-and-business-get-internet-ready-for-eclipse/article_7d12e081-ca02-5d72-8bac-9a38ea04f07a.html

Categorized in News & Politics

The internet can be a harsh place. It seems like for every feel-good story or picture of a puppy playing with a kitten, there are 1,000 trolls rummaging through the depths of their minds to post the most vile comments they can imagine. And if you’re a woman or person of color, well, multiply that troll army by 10.

But hey, that’s the internet, right? Except it doesn’t have to be that way. And it might not be for much longer if the folks at Google (GOOG, GOOGL) subsidiary Jigsaw have their way. A kind of high-powered startup inside Google’s parent company Alphabet, Jigsaw focuses on how technology can defend international human rights.

 

The toxicity of trolls

The company’s latest effort is called the Perspective API. Available Thursday, Feb. 23, Perspective is the result of Jigsaw’s Conversation AI project and uses Google’s machine learning technologies to provide online publishers with a tool that can automatically rank comments in their forums and comments sections based on the likelihood that they will cause someone to leave a conversation. Jigsaw refers to this as a “toxicity” ranking.

“At its core, Perspective is a tool that simply takes a comment and returns back this score from 0 to 100 based on how similar it is to things that other people have said that are toxic,” explained product manager CJ Adams.

Jigsaw doesn’t become the arbiter of what commenters can and can’t say in a publisher’s comment section, though. Perspective is only a tool that publishers use as they see fit. For example, they can give their readers the ability to filter comments based on their toxicity level, so they’ll only see non-toxic posts. Or the publisher could provide a kind of feedback mechanism that tells you if your comments are toxic.

The tool won’t stop you from submitting toxic comments, but it will provide you with the nudge to rethink what you’re writing.

Perspective isn’t just a bad word filter, though. Google’s machine learning actually gives the tool the ability to understand context. So it will eventually be able to tell the difference between telling someone a vacuum cleaner can really suck and that they suck at life.

Perspective still makes mistakes, as I witnessed during a brief demo. But the more comments and information it’s fed, the more it can learn about how to better understand the nuances of human communication.

Jigsaw’s global efforts

In its little over a year of existence, Jigsaw has implemented a series of projects designed to improve the lives of internet users around the world. Project Shield, for example, is a free service that protects news sites from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Redirect Method uses Adwords targeting tools to help refute ISIS’ online recruitment messages, while Montage helps researchers sort through thousands of hours of YouTube videos to find evidence of potential war crimes.

“We wake up and come to work everyday to try to find ways to use technology to make people around the world safer,” Jigsaw President Jared Cohen said. “We are at this nexus between international security and business.”

Cohen said Jigsaw’s engineers travel around the world to meet with internet users vulnerable to harassment and other online-based rights abuses, such as individuals promoting free speech or opposing authoritarian regimes, to understand their unique challenges. And one of the biggest problems, Cohen explained, has been online harassment.

Trolls aren’t always just cruel

Dealing with trolls is par for the course in the US. But in other countries, harassment in comment sections and forums can have political implications.

“In lots of parts of the world where we spend time [harassment] takes on a political motivation, sectarian motivation, ethnic motivation and it’s all sort kind of heightened and exacerbated,” Cohen explained.

But with Perspective, Jigsaw can start to cut down on those forms of harassing comments, and bring more people into online conversations.

“Our goal is to get as many people to rejoin conversations as possible and also to get people who everyday are sort of entering the gauntlet of toxicity to have an opportunity to see that environment improve,” said Cohen.

The path to a better internet?

Jigsaw is already working with The New York Times and Wikipedia to improve their commenting systems. At The New York Times, the Perspective API is being used to let The Gray Lady enable more commenting sections on its articles.

Prior to using Perspective, The Times relied on employees to manually read and filter comments from the paper’s online articles. As a result, just 10% of stories could have comments activated. The Times is using Perspective to create an open source tool that will help reviewers run through comments more quickly and open up a larger number of stories to comments.

Wikipedia, meanwhile, has been using Perspective to detect personal attacks on its volunteer editors, something Jigsaw and the online encyclopedia recently published a paper on.

With the release of Perspective, publishers and developers around the world can take advantage of Google technologies to improve their users’ experiences. And the conversation filtering won’t just stop hateful comments. Cohen said the company is also working to provide publishers and their readers with the ability to filter out comments that are off-topic or generally don’t contribute to conversations.

If Perspective takes off, and a number of publications end up using the technology, the internet could one day have far fewer trolls lurking in its midst.

Author : Daniel Howley

Source : http://finance.yahoo.com/news/how-google-is-fighting-the-war-on-internet-trolls-123048658.html

Categorized in Search Engine

News in the section ‘Context’ are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide you with a deeper understanding of the techniques and methods used by the Russian government in its information war.

This research project by Aric Toler, a contributor at RuNet Echo and Bellingcat, offers a series of guides, tutorials, and walkthroughs on understanding and conducting open-source research on the Russian-language Internet (RuNet). The primary focus of the project is providing instruction on the nuances of Russian-language research relating to the conflict in eastern Ukraine by using contemporary case studies. To show how these methods are useful in other conflicts, this project will also explore some similar open-source work being done on the Syrian conflict. The finished product will help readers learn how to understand and conduct such research.

There are more Internet users in Russia than any other European country, yet there are no detailed guides or tutorials available to guide non-Russian speakers on navigating the wealth of open-source information on the RuNet. Many, if not most, of the guides will be accessible to those with little-to-no Russian skills, giving non-Russian speakers the tools and confidence to access information on the RuNet.

 

The project helps researchers, journalists, and anyone interested in understanding more about the Russian Internet to verify sources and understand information found on Russian social media. It also provides some techniques for media forensics involving images and videos, including the different levels of verification needed for different uses: journalistic, evidentiary, as well as other avenues.

The motivation for carrying out this project is to satisfy a demand among English-speakers for learning materials about carrying out and verifying open-source research on the RuNet. There is a wealth of information on the RuNet that is of interest to specialists, journalists, and the general public in the English-speaking world. There are currently no guides, however, that provide instruction for navigating and verifying these sources that differ from English-language counterparts. Important sources for research data include exclusively Russian-language social networks like Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, along with others that function in Russian-language pockets on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and elsewhere.

Open-source research can complement traditional journalism by generating leads and supplementing on-the-ground reporting. For example, the author of this project, Aric Toler, provided open-source research on a particular Russian soldier who fought in Ukraine to VICE News journalist Simon Ostrovsky to assist him in following his “journey” from his hometown to the battlefields of Ukraine (see “Selfie Soldiers: Russia Checks Into Ukraine”). In another example, open-source research from Bellingcat into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 provided material for a 60 Minutes Australia investigation at the site of the tragedy.

Each installment of RuNet Echo’s guidebook includes a detailed tutorial, accompanied by case studies, teaching readers how to conduct a particular kind of open-source research.

How to Conduct Open-Source Research on the Russian Internet

This entire guidebook is also available as a PDF. Download it. Print it. Share it with your research buddies and students. If you start using the methods described here, help RuNet Echo report on the Russian Internet! Contact our editors and let us know what stories you’d like to write about!

Read

By Global Voices

Global Voices reporters cover how citizens use the Internet and social media to make their voices heard, often translating from and to different languages.

 

Source : http://www.stopfake.org/en/how-to-conduct-open-source-research-on-the-russian-internet/

Categorized in Online Research

The internet is a pool of information and knowledge openly available to all. The possibilities are endless. This information is aided by a platform wherein you input your keywords to be able to get what you are searching for. Google is a multinational, publicly-traded organization built around the company’s hugely popular search engine. One of the top search engines in the world, Google today is quite a popular brand as it serves many functions over the internet. Their search engine aids with gaining information, either literary or graphic. For searches made about images, Google has innovated a new technology for a super-resolution image named “zoom and enhance”. This is developed by Google Brain and DeepMind, two of Alphabet’s deep learning research arms.The new technology essentially uses a pair of neural networks, which are fed an 8 x 8-pixel image and are then able to create an approximation of what it thinks the original image would look like.

This neural network does not magically enhance the image, just to be clear. These are only predictions of what the image may best look like. There are two neural networks involved. These are named the conditioning network and the prior network. The conditioning network is the rough skeleton of the process where it  basically maps out the pixels of the 8 x 8-pixel image into a similar looking but higher resolution image. Here, the Google software downsizes high resolution photos to match the 8×8 source image. The second part of the process is the “prior network,” which takes the image and adds more details by using other, already existing images that have similar pixel maps. They use the implementation of PixelCNN in processing the image. When these parts have done their parts, the two of them combine forming a better resolute image. The transformation is quite amazing actually as the rendered images are quite close to the original. These, however, are not reliable sources for legal cases as these can give false findings.

 

Video Courtesy of Youtube:

These processed images called “hallucinations” are just best guesses. These can be used in surveillance and forensics but should not be regarded as real evidence as this can only give us a lead. This new advancement is Google’s way of advancing their services to the public. Google has gone a long way in the information technology timeline. They have emerged competitively, able to address the needs of their audience. The many platforms they created, the many innovations they have added to better their service is a goal for the company to continue to achieve. The internet has a wide database readily available for exploration. Almost all of the answer to your concerns and uncertainties can be found on the web. As social media has opened the doors to information sharing via social sites and the like, there is vulnerability to the information shared. It would still be best to think twice on what you plan to put out in the open for you can never get it back. Once data is sent, it is broadcasted around the world and you no longer have control over it.

Author : KC Curay

Source : https://www.mobilemag.com/2017/02/20/google-brain-has-upgraded-their-image-processing-with-the-zoom-and-enhance-feature-giving-better-quality-images-than-ever-before/

Categorized in Internet Technology

Search engines can seem like magic. You have a question; the Internet has the answer.

But not all search results are equal. Everything from your location to previous searches and your social media habits builds a little content bubble. A personalized corner of the World Wide Web has been curated just for you.

A travel writer from Vancouver may get restaurants and must-visit sites when they type in "Venezuela," while a human rights lawyer from New York will see news of the latest political crackdown.

Often, we don't see the search results that defy our online habits, which is convenient when it comes to restaurant recommendations but problematic for staying informed. When the majority of us get our information, we don't know what we're missing.

 

According to a 2016 Reuters Institute study, 75 per cent of Canadians get their news online, and nearly half of us (45 per cent) from social media. More than just news, the Internet is where we turn for entertainment, research and inspiration.

Our feeds quickly turn into echo chambers instead of thought provoking dialogue.

The Internet was meant to be this great contest of ideas. But instead of expanding our perspectives, the Internet shows us what it thinks we want to see. Is it also dividing us?

The newest generation of algorithms, pieces of code that function like behind-the-scenes instructions, are ranking our preferences and filtering content online.

These algorithms are the reason you know when your favourite band is in town, when the store you like is having a sale -- and why it seems like all of your Facebook friends share your political views. Facebook will prioritize posts to your feed that you're more likely to agree with based on your likes. Our feeds quickly turn into echo chambers instead of thought provoking dialogue.

facebook feed
(Photo: Chao Fann via Getty Images)

In the battle for clicks, these algorithms are everywhere on the web -- search engines, mainstream news sites, your Netflix account. And this personalization is pushing us even further apart at a time when fake news and polarizing political debates already divide us. Politics, race and gender all appear differently through the lens of our bubbles.

 

Eli Pariser, author of the bestseller The Filter Bubble recently underscored the issue while speaking with the Guardian: "Some of these problems that our fellow citizens are having kind of disappear from view without our really even realizing."

Opening your online experience to more voices could make you more engaged, informed and, ultimately, empathetic toward perspectives different from your own.

Privacy settings offer a first line of defence. But why not challenge yourself to break the algorithm by shifting your online habits?

A well-rounded, informed perspective on the issues of our time is harder to come by these days. 

The algorithms respond to our clicks. So, click away.

Click on ideas and stories you disagree with. Find voices on social media from different communities. Watch movies and visit websites that challenge your assumptions.

We all have to be active participants, curating our own diverse media by seeking out different voices to become more informed.

Information is at our fingertips -- but a well-rounded, informed perspective on the issues of our time is harder to come by these days.

Author : Craig and Marc Kielburger

Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/craig-and-marc-kielburger/internet-bubbles_b_14821482.html

Categorized in Search Engine

Jared Grusd, the CEO of The Huffington Post, spoke at the Dublin Tech summit this week discussing the future of digital content and technology.

Appearing alongside former CNN anchor Gina London, Grusd discussed the development of HuffPo as a brand, how digital content creators develop, and the future of technology. Discussing the Huffington Post brand development, Grusd said, “I think one thing to think about is the human experience. All of us are people, but when you run a company or run product you start ascribing labels: audience, consumers, customers. And all of a sudden you start referring to actual living, breathing human beings in these generic terms, and the truth is all of us as people have multiple interests.”

“I can be serious and I can have fun; I can be funny, my wife says not enough, but my daughters think enough,” he elaborated. “I think it’s really important to have that balance, and one of the things that I think the best digital publishers have done over the past ten years has been to think about the way in which they publish content differently than historically.”

“What we’ve heard all day in many forms,” continued Grusd, “is the power of data, to understand your audiences, and I think the best publishers really look at the data of what their people, their audience, their consumers are actually doing on their properties and are learning from that, adapting from that. What you realize is that if you’re serious all the time, at some point it’s too much; if you’re funny all the time then you’re not serious, and so getting that blend is really part of the magic and math that’s required to be successful.”

When asked about the Huffington Post’s success, Grusd said, “I think in every era in the history of media there have been giant waves that have formed, and I think that like all good surfers you have to sort of understand the break, get your board, paddle, and surf it just at the right time. And to Arianna Huffington’s credit, who is the founder and obviously the namesake of the Huffington Post, what she realized is there were few trends that were all converging at the same time.”

“The first is that there was a huge change in media landscape that was really produced by Google, because Google search essentially opened up the Internet, the world wide web, to all of us to then go discover stuff and in that process of discovery, very sophisticated content producers could actually create content that Google’s algorithms and spiders would crawl to serve us that content,” he noted. “And one of the things that I think we did really well was create content that was very Google friendly.”

Author : LUCAS NOLAN

Source : http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2017/02/16/huffpo-ceo-google-search-essentially-opened-up-the-internet-for-digital-publishers/

Categorized in Search Engine

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