Google Overhauls Search Algorithm in Bid to Fight Fake News

The Telegraph, 4/25/2017

Google is changing their search algorithm to better distinguish websites that contain fake news, conspiracy theories, or extreme views from more reputable sources or websites. The search engine’s Autosuggest and Direct Answer features will also be modified, to allow users to report offensive suggestions or false information (respectively). This comes after months of growing public pressure for Google to make changes to combat the spread of misinformation on the Internet.

Facebook Is Developing a Helicopter to Deliver Internet Access in Emergencies

The Verge, 4/20/2017

Facebook is developing a small helicopter to provide wireless Internet access in emergencies. Where cellular infrastructure is damaged, the “Tether-Tenna” helicopter would latch onto functioning fiber data lines, along with electric lines, and rise up in the air to broadcast a signal. This technology, along with others currently being built, is part of Facebook’s efforts to make Internet access more widely and consistently available.

As Congress Repeals Internet Privacy Rules, Putting Your Options in Perspective

National Public Radio, 3/28/2017

Rules made in October by the Federal Commercial Commission (FCC) are expected to be overturned by Congress and President Trump. These rules would have regulated how Internet Service Providers (ISPs) collected and used data from users, by giving users more control over what information ISPs collect. This rule set would not apply to websites and app providers, like Facebook or Google. However, critics of the overturn argue that it is much more difficult for users to choose to avoid ISPs if they do not wish to be tracked.

Protecting Web Users’ Privacy

MIT News, 3/23/2017

MIT and Stanford University researchers are developing Splinter, an encryption system that hides online database queries. Splinter splits up and encrypts the request for data, sending subparts of the query to different database servers. The user’s computer organizes the returned data to determine the answer. The researchers seek to protect a user’s sensitive information as it travels through the Internet, and in some cases to keep the database systems themselves from knowing who’s searching for what.

Bridging a Digital Divide That Leaves Schoolchildren Behind

The New York Times, 2/22/2017

The federal government is attempting to bridge the growing digital divide in low-income families by expanding a subsidy program, Lifeline, to include broadband Internet access. The Federal Communications Commission’s main goal in revising Lifeline is to address the increasing number of students without online access needed to complete schoolwork and homework. Other methods are being used to in an effort to patch this divide, such as wifi-equipped buses and school-provided wireless hotspots.

Microsoft, Code.org Target Beginner Coders With Minecraft Programme

The Guardian, 12/9/2016

Mojang, Microsoft, and Code.org are teaming up to inspire a new generation of coders. The latest version of Code.org’s Hour of Code is a tutorial that allows beginner coders to create and share their own Minecraft game. Code.org’s goal is to provide “every student in every school…the opportunity to learn computer science” — in this case, through the highly popular Minecraft game.

Large DDoS Attacks Cause Outages at Twitter, Spotify, and Other Sites

TechCrunch, 10/21/2016

A recent large scale DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on DNS provider Dyn caused many sites to become temporarily inaccessible, including Twitter, Spotify, and a number of other important social media, e-commerce, news, and code-sharing sites. The attack was coordinated using a large group of compromised devices known as a “botnet”. Rather than computers, much of this botnet consisted of infected IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as security cameras.