WhatsApp Users Spread Antivaccine Rumors in India

2019 04 15 whatsapp vaccine india

That’s the headline on my latest story, out Saturday. It begins:

Antivaccine misinformation, some of it from social media posts in the West, is spreading in India on WhatsApp, undermining efforts to root out measles and rubella in a country where tens of thousands of people are struck by the diseases each year.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 173: False News on WhatsApp – YouTube Under Fire – Rap Grandmas – Puppy Waves

2019 04 10 india

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

🚨 Elections here in India, the world’s largest democracy, begin Thursday. They run in several stages through May 19.

I had several stories – some election-related, some not – out last week.

First, those related to elections.

📰 Online and on Monday’s WSJ front page:

Fake News Runs Wild on WhatsApp as India Elections Loom.

The lede:

In India, viral fake news is lighting up Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging app as the world’s biggest democracy prepares for national elections in the coming weeks.

Efforts by WhatsApp and the government to stop the spread of misinformation are having little effect, according to fact-checking groups and analysts.

Then two more:

Meanwhile, a couple of other stories I wrote with colleagues:

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📹 1) YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant [Bloomberg]

“The company spent years chasing one business goal above others: ‘Engagement,’’ a measure of the views, time spent and interactions with online videos. Conversations with over twenty people who work at, or recently left, YouTube reveal a corporate leadership unable or unwilling to act on these internal alarms for fear of throttling engagement. ”

⚠ 2) Old, Online, And Fed On Lies: How An Aging Population Will Reshape The Internet [Buzzfeed News]

“Older people play an outsized role in civic life. They also are more likely to be online targets for misinformation and hyperpartisan rhetoric.”

👂 3) Amazon Is Making a Rival to Apple’s AirPods as Its First Alexa Wearable [Bloomberg]

“The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is readying earbuds with built-in Alexa access for as early as the second half of this year, according to people with knowledge of the plans.”

⭐ 4) The Most Hyped Technology of Every Year From 2000–2018 [Visual Capitalist]

“Today’s graphic is a retrospective look at which trends scaled the summit of the Hype Cycle each year since 2000.”

📚 5) They Had it Coming [The Atlantic]

“Thirty years ago, having tapped out of a Ph.D. program, I moved to Los Angeles (long story) and got hired at the top boys’ school in the city, which would soon become co-educational. For the first four years, I taught English. Best job I’ve ever had. For the next three, I was a college counselor. Worst job I’ve ever had.

🔫 6) Reflections on The Sopranos [Econlib/Bryan Caplan]

“Here are the top social science insights I take away. (minor spoilers)”

🚢 7) Building the Largest Ship In the World, South Korea [Alastair Philip Wiper]

“Apart from a couple of guys finishing some last-minute paint jobs, I pretty much had the whole ship to myself. ”

🎤 8) A New Role for Madhur Jaffrey: Rap Grandma [NY Times]

“In the video, which debuted Monday online, the character describes herself as ‘85 years gold’ and ‘the best damn Nani that you ever done seen,’ among other assertions too colorful for this newspaper.”

⚾ 9) A dinosaur tried to throw the first pitch at a Rangers game, but it did not go well [MLB] (Thanks, PB)

“It’s hard to make a pitch when you have tiny arms.”

🐶 10) Say Hi to the people [Reddit] (Thanks, Anasuya)

💡 Quote of the week:

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” – Viktor Frankl

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley’s Notes 172: Apple’s New Services – Zuckerberg Talks Regs – 38 Best Bangkok Restaurants – Strays Run Free

2019 04 07wood

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🍎 1) Apple Pushes Beyond iPhone With Launch of TV, Finance, Gaming, News Services

“Apple Inc. unveiled new products for entertainment, financial services, news and videogames as the technology giant vies with competitors that are also moving to expand their disruptive influence outside their core businesses in search of new growth.”

🔍 2) Bezos Investigation Finds the Saudis Obtained His Private Data [Daily Beast]

“I’ve seen a lot. And yet, I’ve recently seen things that have surprised even me, such as the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, being in league with a foreign nation that’s been actively trying to harm American citizens and companies, including the owner of the Washington Post. ”

👮 3) Mark Zuckerberg outlines ideas for new web regulations in WaPo op-ed [Axios]

“When it comes to malicious or harmful content, Zuckerberg is making an unabashed pitch for industry self-regulation.”

📷 4) The Business of Your Face [Fortune]

“In at least three cases, for instance, firms have obtained millions of images by harvesting them via photo apps on people’s phones.”

👍 5) By my pal Austin Bush: The 38 Essential Bangkok Restaurants [Eater]

“Despite what you may have heard, the street isn’t the only place to eat in Thailand’s vibrant capital.”

🌋 6) The Day the Dinosaurs Died [New Yorker]

“A young paleontologist may have discovered a record of the most significant event in the history of life on Earth.”

🍔 7) Broken Chains Blog [Actionsdower.blogspot.com]

“Seeking out the restaurant and retail chains thought long-gone.”

😺 8) Garfield phones beach mystery finally solved after 35 years [BBC News]

“The beach-cleaning teams had long suspected that a lost shipping container – perhaps blown overboard – had regurgitated its precious orange cargo. But they had never been able to find it.”

⚽ 9) Listen: A Referee Wears A Microphone During An A-League Match [YouTube]

“A-League referee Jarred Gillett wore a microphone during match between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers to give a fascinating insight into refereeing.”

🐾 10) Dude adopts 45 dogs and lets them loose in their own 4 acre enclosed preserve! [Reddit]

💡 Quote of the week:

📖 "The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.” – Voltaire

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Fake News Is Rampant on WhatsApp as Indian Elections Loom

2019 04 01 whatsapp india

That’s the headline on my newest story, out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI — In India, viral fake news is lighting up Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging app as the world’s biggest democracy prepares for national elections in the coming weeks.

Efforts by WhatsApp and the government to stop the spread of misinformation are having little effect, according to fact-checking groups and analysts.

That is a challenge for Facebook, as well as policy makers and voters grappling with digital falsehoods in India, a country of 1.3 billion people where mobile internet access has exploded in recent years.

It also provides a unique window on how Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s surprising strategic shift from public postings to private messaging could play out around the world. Mr. Zuckerberg said in March that Facebook would move to a model favoring encrypted group chats like those on WhatsApp, which is popular in emerging economies including Brazil and Indonesia.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. Research firm Counterpoint estimates it has 300 million users, making it bigger here than Facebook. WhatsApp hasn’t released user figures since February 2017, when it said it had 200 million users in India. Since then, plummeting prices for mobile data and inexpensive smartphones have made WhatsApp the default digital town square in a country with deep societal divides.

Click through to read the rest.

Newley’s Notes 171: Apple’s Big Event; EHRs: FUBAR; Best Chrome Extensions; Weimaraner Puppies

2019 03 27 birds sky

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

🔧 So: Are you ready for some #KnowledgeWorker #ProTips?

Thanks to Mechum for writing in with some suggestions on good Chrome extensions. Yes, Chrome extensions.

If, like many folks, you spend a lot your working day in Google’s Chrome web browser – emailing, doing web research, writing, updating your calendar – it pays to incorporate some tweaks to make it more effective.

✨ Extensions, or small programs you can add on to the browser for specific functions, can be a huge help. To wit, Mechum writes:

"For anyone who runs a tab-heavy Chrome game, I recommend the Cluster extension for wrangling those tabs and actually knowing what you have going on in different windows.

But if you’re running lots of tabs also using an under-powered machine…I find The Great Suspender to be really valuable. It has a lot of options but I have it set to ‘suspend’ (unload) tabs I haven’t viewed in 5 minutes, freeing up memory. The pages reload when you go back to them. These two extensions work together really well."

I can vouch for The Great Suspender, and would add a few more to the list.

For making screen captures, FireShot is excellent.

And for finding web pages that have been taken offline, I suggest Wayback Machine.

For privacy and security, check out two extensions from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere.

Happy browsing!

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

💊 1) An important investigation by my friend Erika Fry, of Fortune, and Kaiser Health News’s Fred Schulte: Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong [Fortune/KHN]

“…a months-long joint investigation by KHN and Fortune has found that instead of streamlining medicine, the government’s EHR initiative has created a host of largely unacknowledged patient safety risks.

🎥 2) Just what is Apple going to unveil Monday? [Marketplace]

“On Monday, Apple is holding a special event tagged with the line ‘It’s showtime!’ That’s led to wide speculation the company will finally reveal its streaming service.”

🎮 3) Google Unveils Stadia, a High-End Gaming Service Without a Console [WSJ]

“Google unveiled a new service called Stadia that lets players stream videogames from the cloud without needing pricey hardware – an elusive feat that could change the way people buy and play games.”

🎶 4) Myspace apparently lost 12 years’ worth of music, and almost no one noticed [Ars Technica]

“Myspace apparently admitted the problem to concerned users seven or eight months ago, but so few people noticed that there wasn’t any news coverage until the past 24 hours.”

✈ 5) Rick Steves Wants to Set You Free [New York Times Magazine]

“Out of this paradoxical desire – the enlightenment of Americans through their extraction from America – Steves has built his quirky travel empire”

🧐 6) The Magical Thinking Around Brexit [New Yorker]

“Members of the E.U. are frustrated because, even though they have spent two years negotiating a withdrawal agreement with Prime Minister Theresa May, Parliament has rejected it twice, most recently last Tuesday, which means that there is a risk of a chaotic, off-the-cliff No Deal Brexit, without determining new rules for trade, travel, or such basic matters as drivers’ licenses.”

🤖 7) Being An Instagram Influencer Is Hard Work, So This Guy Made A Bot To Do It For Him [Buzzfeed News]

“For Buetti, it’s the perfect solution if you don’t want to actually dedicate time to curating an online following, but still want to score free spaghetti from restaurants seeking publicity.”

🐦 8) Fantasy Birding Is Real, And It’s Spectacular [Deadspin]

“Using eBird, a citizen-science database run by Cornell University where birders log their sightings, players select single locations on a map each day, and get credit for a bird if a real-life birder spots that species within a 10-kilometer radius that day”

🏠 9) Meet the Flintstone House, a Home So Odd It Was Declared a ‘Public Nuisance’ [New York Times]

“‘It is one thing to spot this house when driving by on the freeway; you might find it amusing,’ Mark D. Hudak, a lawyer for the town, said on Monday in an email. ‘It is a different thing to be a neighbor and see it all day, every day.’”

🐕 10) Gotta have the ear blanket [Reddit]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." – Stephen King

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

‘Rick Steves Wants to Set You Free’

2019 03 25 travel

Rick Steves is absolutely American. He wears jeans every single day. He drinks frozen orange juice from a can. He likes his hash browns burned, his coffee extra hot. He dislikes most fancy restaurants; when he’s on the road, he prefers to buy a foot-long Subway sandwich and split it between lunch and dinner. He has a great spontaneous honk of a laugh — it bursts out of him, when he is truly delighted, with the sharpness of a firecracker on the Fourth of July. Steves is so completely American that when you stop to really look at his name, you realize it’s just the name Rick followed by the plural of Steve — that he is a one-man crowd of absolutely regular everyday American guys: one Rick, many Steves. Although Steves spends nearly half his life traveling, he insists, passionately, that he would never live anywhere but the United States — and you know when he says it that this is absolutely true. In fact, Steves still lives in the small Seattle suburb where he grew up, and every morning he walks to work on the same block, downtown, where his parents owned a piano store 50 years ago. On Sundays, Steves wears his jeans to church, where he plays the congas, with great arm-pumping spirit, in the inspirational soft-rock band that serenades the congregation before the service starts, and then he sits down and sings classic Lutheran hymns without even needing to refer to the hymnal. Although Steves has published many foreign-language phrase books, the only language he speaks fluently is English. He built his business in America, raised his kids in America and gives frequent loving paeans to the glories of American life.

And yet: Rick Steves desperately wants you to leave America.

That’s just one of the many fantastic passages in Sam Anderson’s profile of travel guru Rick Steves, just out in the New York Times Magazine.

Very much worth a read.