Read for Later – “We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves"

This week’s headline is from Adam Mosseri, Facebook Vice President for News Feed, announcing some of the platform's new strategies for addressing hoaxes and fake news. I believe in giving people a voice, but I also believe that there is verifiable information (truth), so I'm a little confused by Mosseri's line. But I'm going to try and learn from Facebook's approach to fake news and think about how it fits into our work - and hopefully learn from some of the other stories we share below.  

Three quick notes:

You can always check out the Center's trend collection to see how this scanning comes together to identify trends relevant to our future work. And if you have a chance, drop me a line to let me know if any of the articles we’ve featured in this newsletter have really grabbed your attention, made you think, or inspired a great conversation at work. 

Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, and Learning Machines

MIT Technology Review “Uber’s robotic taxis are headed to San Francisco”
Uber announced the availability of its new autonomous car – a Volvo XC90s with lidar distance measuring systems and seven cameras - for selected users hailing an UberX in San Francisco. See also CNET, Consumerist, Inc., Mashable, ReCode, and TechCrunch.

Consumerist “Self-Driving Ubers run red lights in San Francisco; company blames humans”
A dashboard camera on a traditional taxi cab recorded what appears to be the autonomous car running a red light – Uber claimed the error was a result of the human driver on board. See also  Gizmodo, ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.

The Daily Dot “Uber will still roll out self-driving cars in San Francisco despite DMV threats”
Uber’s autonomous car roll out was met with a warning from the California DMV that it is in violation of “autonomous vehicle” testing laws and must obtain a permit to operate self-driving cars in the state – Uber has proceeded with the test in spite of the violation warning. See also CNET, Engadget, NPR, TechCrunch and again, and Wired.

Books and Publishing

Nieman Lab “Clamping down on viral fake news, Facebook partners with sites like Snopes and adds new user reporting”
Facebook’s new solution for fake news will be tested with a small percentage of U.S.-based, English-language users on both desktop and mobile – users will be able to mark stories as fake by clicking on the existing “Report Post” option and selecting the new “It’s a fake news story” response while Facebook will work with U.S.-based fact-checking organizations to review those posts with a large number of people reporting as fake. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, Business Insider, BuzzFeedNews, CNET, The Columbia Journalism Review, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, Digiday, Engadget and again, Geekwire, Gizmodo, Inc. and again, Mashable and again, New Scientist, The New York Times, Poynter and again, Quartz, ReCode, Slate, TechCrunch, The Verge, Vocativ, and Wired.

Nieman Lab “Predictions for Journalism 2017”
Virtual reality, the public trust, diversity, podcasts, and drones are on the minds of leading journalists for Nieman Lab’s annual collection of predictions for 2017.

Cities and Government

NextCity “New design guide helps planners hack tactical urbanism”
The Street Plans Collaborative's new “The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design” helps users navigate pop-up urbanism projects whether as demonstration, pilot, interim design or final, long-term installation.


ReCode “Apple, Facebook, Google and Uber say they won’t help Trump build a registry of Muslim-Americans”
Facebook, Apple, Google, IBM, Uber, and Microsoft have all joined Twitter in issuing statements refusing to hand over data to help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump track or build a database to profile Muslim-Americans. See also Engadget, Gizmodo, Inc., and The Verge.

Reuters “Tech employees vow not to help Trump surveil Muslims, deport immigrants”
Employees of Google, Twitter, and Salesforce signed an open letter pledging to not help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations. See also CNET, Engadget, The Los Angeles Times, Mashable, TechCrunch, and Vocativ.

Mashable “Teens are partying less than ever, according to new survey”
The National Institute of Health's annual "Monitoring the Future" survey finds that teens aren't using drugs, drinking, or using marijuana as much as previous generations.

Mashable “National Geographic makes history with young trans cover star”
National Geographic will feature a transgender person on its cover for the first time in the magazine's history – Avery Jackson, a nine-year-old trans girl from Missouri, will grace a forthcoming special issue of the publication while an alternate cover will feature an ensemble of transgender youths spotlighted in the issue devoted entirely to gender identity and rights. See also The Daily Dot.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Pittsburgh City Council approves age restriction on 'conversion therapy’”
The Pittsburgh City Council approved an age restriction on “conversion therapy,” joining eight other cities that have curbed mental health professionals’ use of the controversial therapy that supposedly helps change sexual orientation or how people identify their gender.


MIT Technology Review “An Amazon drone has delivered its first products to a paying customer”
Amazon made its first ever commercial drone delivery – carrying an Amazon Fire TV stick and a bag of popcorn to one of two customers involved in a trial in the United Kingdom. See also ArsTechnica, Bloomberg, Consumerist, The Daily Dot, Engadget,  Geekwire and again, Inc., Mashable, Motherboard, New Scientist, ReCode, TechCrunch, The Verge, and Wired.


The Chronicle of Higher Education “Economic realities have altered Ph.D. recipients’ plans for future”
New data from the National Science Foundation shows that people who earned doctoral degrees in the United States last year were less likely to report taking jobs at American higher-education institutions than at any time since the start of this century – 48.5% planned to take jobs in academe in the United States while 32.4% planned to take jobs in business or industry.

The Environment

The Washington Post “Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump”
Scientists have begun copying government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from political interference from the incoming Trump administration – the efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event coordinated with the iSchool at the University of Toronto. See also Motherboard and The Verge.

Quartz “Bill Gates and investors worth $170 billion are launching a fund to fight climate change through energy innovation”
The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund will secure over $1 billion to invest in clean energy technology beginning next year – the fund is the next step in the work of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition that includes Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Michael Bloomberg.  See also CNET, Geekwire, Grist, Inc., Mashable, MIT Technology Review, NextBigFuture, and TechCrunch.

Scientific American “The Greater New York City region must plan for ‘permanent flooding’”
The Regional Plan Association’s new report explores sea-level rise scenarios for 1-, 3- and 6-foot increments in the tri-state region, finding that many of the major resilience policies, plans, and projects under development fall short of addressing the long-term threat of permanent flooding from sea-level rise.

The Internet

Consumerist “FCC chair Tom Wheeler to step down when Trump takes office”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has confirmed his plans to step down after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office – all current indications are that the next FCC chair will likely seek to undo many of the current administration’s more high-profile regulations, including new neutrality efforts. See also Advertising Age, ArsTechnica, CNET, Engadget, Motherboard, ReCode, TechCrunch, and Wired.


BBC “'One billion' affected by Yahoo hack”
More than one billion Yahoo user accounts - including names, phone numbers, passwords, and email addresses - may have been part of a hacking attack dating back to 2013 and separate from the 2014 breach of 500 million accounts disclosed in September. See also Engadget, Geekwire, Inc., Mashable, Motherboard, New Scientist, The New York Times, NextBigFuture, TechCrunch, and The Wall Street Journal.

TechCrunch “Evernote’s new privacy policy allows employees to read your notes” and “Evernote reverses privacy policy that allows employees to read users’ notes”
Evernote’s new privacy policy sought to advance the company’s machine learning efforts, but clauses allowing employees to read notes so they could ensure that the machine learning was functioning properly were met with resistance – the company walked back the change to its privacy policy and now says that users will have to opt in to let employees read their notes for the purposes of machine learning. See also ArsTechnica, Consumerist and again, Engadget, Fast Company, Mashable, and The Verge.

The Verge “Twitter cuts off geospatial data access for police intelligence centers”
Twitter will cut off all geospatial intelligence data being sold to police intelligence centers, making it harder for police to single out individual Twitter users. See also Engadget and Mashable.

The Verge “The Wynn Las Vegas is putting an Amazon Echo in every hotel room”
The Wynn Las Vegas announced that it will place Amazon’s Echo devices in all 4,748 of its hotel rooms by summer 2017, letting guests control room lights, temperature, drapery, and the television using voice commands – the announcement did not include notes for security and privacy precautions like automatically wiping the device’s history between guests. See also Consumerist, Geekwire, Mashable, ReCode, and TechCrunch.

Streaming Media

TechCrunch “Amazon expands its Prime Video service to over 200 countries, but China isn’t included”
Amazon’s Prime Video service is now available in more than 200 countries worldwide, competing with Netflix’s global expansion plans – though neither service has expanded into the potentially large market of China. See also Advertising Age and CNET.

TechCrunch “New streaming service BritBox brings British TV to the U.S.”
BBC Worldwide will partner with UK broadcaster ITV and AMC Networks for the launch of BritBox, a streaming service bringing the largest subscription video-on-demand library of British television to American audiences. See also ArsTechnica.

ReCode “Facebook says it’s in talks to buy its own video shows”
Facebook may try to boost video on its social platform by licensing content from TV studios and other video producers, including scripted shows, game shows, and sports. See also Engadget, Gizmodo, Mashable, and TechCrunch.  

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

CNET “Facebook is launching 360 degree live videos”
Facebook plans to release a 360 degree live video feature, allowing users to look up, down, and around in videos – the service will begin with videos from publishers, including a live video from the Mars Desert Research Station facility in Utah, in partnership with National Geographic. See also ReCode, TechCrunch, and The Verge.