A Concentrated Set of Users

Hello friends! Welcome to Digitally Literate, issue #310.

This week I helped post the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Reach out and say hello at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Climate Action Tracker: The state of the climate crisis in 2021

2021 is a critical year for climate change. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, governments must decide now on how to reduce the amount of carbon they pump into the atmosphere in order to avoid the most devastating consequences of global warming.

Are we on track to limit global warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius? The Climate Action Tracker explains the good news and the bad news for the planet.

Here are all the Facebook Papers stories

We spent a little over a month covering the Facebook Files. We’re seeing this expand beyond the Wall Street Journal reporting to 17 news outlets shared articles based on what have become collectively known as The Facebook Papers — leaked company documents and memos, courtesy of whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Katie Harbath is maintaining a list of all the Facebook Papers stories. They paint a picture of Facebook that’s very different from what Mark Zuckerberg likes to say.

And yet, despite the bad press, profits at the company are better than ever. (ノ-_-)ノ ~┻━┻


Twitter Data Has Revealed A Coordinated Campaign Of Hate Against Meghan Markle

On Tuesday, Twitter analytics service Bot Sentinel released a report examining Twitter activity related to the Sussexes and found that the majority of the hate and misinformation about the couple originated from a small group of accounts whose primary purpose appears to be to tweet negatively about them. 83 accounts are responsible for 70% of the social media trolling directed at Meghan Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, on Twitter. Combined, the accounts have over 187,000 followers.

Why is this important? First, I have not reviewed the work or reports of Bot Sentinel up until now. Second, it is amazing the impact a small, but a concentrated set of users can have online.

The news is reminiscent of similar stats that point to how a small group of users can have an outsized effect — like how just twelve accounts have been found to be responsible for a large proportion of the vaccine misinformation on social media.


Help build an open source voice database

AI assistants like Siri and Alexa can be useful if you speak common languages like English and Spanish, less so if you speak any one of the 1,000 languages in Africa, or even just speak with a specific dialect or accent.

Want to do something about it?

Mozilla is making a database of voice samples so software developers can more easily include your language and accent, and build it in a way that makes sure no language is left behind. You can donate your voice to help build an open-source voice database that anyone can use to make innovative apps for devices and the web.

Read a sentence to help machines learn how real people speak. Check the work of other contributors to improve the quality. It’s that simple!


The Metaverse Is Already Here — It’s Minecraft

As Facebook rebrands to Meta, and Zuckerberg trots out a vision of the metaverse, Clive Thompson indicates that our kids are already building and playing in the metaverse.

The truth is, a thriving metaverse already exists. It’s incredibly high-functioning, with millions of people immersed in it for hours a day. In this metaverse, people have built uncountable custom worlds, and generated god knows how many profitable businesses and six-figure careers. Yet this terrain looks absolutely nothing the like one Zuckerberg showed off.

It’s Minecraft, of course.


A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

We knew this day would come.

We’ve covered deepfakes for some time here in this newsletter. Deepfakes began as users could take the face and voice of someone famous and overlay that onto a pre-existing video. Most of the early deepfakes began as AI-generated synthetic media was used to create pornographic representations of real people.

According to deepfake researcher Henry Adjer, a new web app lets anyone upload a photo of a person and, using deepfake technology, superimpose their face into an adult video.

So far, the app exists in “relative obscurity,” and the MIT Tech Review post above refers to the platform only as “Y,” in an attempt to avoid inadvertently launching it into the mainstream.

Intentionally cultivate self-compassion

Luckily, our level of self-compassion is not set in stone and it can be intentionally cultivated.

Being kinder to ourselves may give us a safe place to land, no matter where showing our vulnerability leads us. Then, we don’t need to have as much faith in the notion that everything will go smoothly if we share our struggles with others. We can have more trust in ourselves to handle the outcome either way.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.

Anne Lamott

Want your metaverse for group meetings? Check out Gather for relatively lo-fi graphics to keep it accessible to anyone with a modern web browser.

Let me know if I got anything wrong at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

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