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Weekly News Digest

October 16, 2018 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

Leaked Google Presentation Shows Its Attitude Toward Free Speech

Nick Statt writes for The Verge, “A leaked research presentation put together by employees of Google shows the extent to which the search giant is grappling with decisions around freedom of speech and censorship.” The presentation, titled The Good Censor, leaked to Breitbart News, and it is published in full here.

Statt writes that “it’s a mix of findings and insights based on interviews and contributions from a number of journalists, academics, and cultural critics.” He continues, “The aim, according to the first slide of the presentation, is to ‘reassure the world that [Google] protects users from harmful conduct while still supporting free speech.’ ... [Google’s concerns] are mirrored by many Silicon Valley tech platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, that now moderate a large swath of human conversation. Essentially, the company is asking itself whether it’s possible to protect against the negative aspects of free speech—violent threats, fake news, bots, trolling, propaganda, and election interference, to name just a few—while promoting a platform that gives everyone a voice.”

For more information, read the article.

IFLA Publishes Guide on Marrakesh Treaty Implementation

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) released a guide for librarians that is focused on the Marrakesh Treaty, which aims to remove barriers to access to information for people with print disabilities. It provides answers to frequently asked questions and can be adapted to suit individual countries’ laws so that the largest possible number of libraries can benefit. IFLA member Victoria Owen edited the guide with support from the World Blind Union (WBU), CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries), and the University of Toronto. It is currently available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian.

For more information, read the news.

eLife Debuts a New Section of Its Website

eLife has launched eLife Science Digests, a new section of its website featuring article digests—research that has been chosen by its editors and that is described in plain language. So far, the section includes more than 40 digests, and more will be added as new articles are published.

According to Stuart King, eLife’s associate features editor, “We hope this latest change will make eLife digests easier to find, especially for generalist readers who are interested in diverse topics across the life and biomedical sciences.”       

For more information, read the press release.

DPLA Shares Ebook Initiative Updates

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has announced updates on its ebook programs. Now in its second year, DPLA Exchange is working with five pilot libraries that are using it to buy content and download free materials. This content integrates with materials from other vendors with SimplyE, a free mobile app created by the New York Public Library. In addition, DPLA’s Open Bookshelf collection of popular and classic OA ebooks, which was launched in June 2018, now offers more than 2,000 books and is growing daily, based on community input. Members of DPLA’s Curation Corps review and enhance each book in the collection.

For more information, read the news.

POLITICO Starts Database for Collecting and Debunking Fake News

POLITICO started an initiative to combat fake news. It notes that fake news is actually “disinformation—false content created explicitly to deceive or misinform” and says, “The month leading up to the midterm elections will likely see a proliferation of false information spread under the guise of news in an effort to sway voters.” POLITICO is working on identifying and tracing this information’s origins and debunking it. People can view the progress via a publicly accessible database. POLITICO is asking that people submit reports, websites, and social media posts that they believe to be disseminating disinformation.

For more information, read the article.

Study Reveals That DNA May Not Be Anonymous

In the WIRED article “Genome Hackers Show No One’s DNA Is Anonymous Anymore,” author Megan Molteni says that people’s DNA information may be openly available on geneology websites. Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry have created profiles for more than 12 million people who use their services, and these customers download their information and can then choose to add it to public sites, such as GEDmatch. However, interlocking family trees based on this information have grown so large that they can be used to connect more than half of the U.S. population. This is reinforced by a study in Science claiming that 60% of Americans with European heritage can be identified through their DNA using open genealogy databases whether or not they have ever had their DNA profiled.

“The takeaway is it doesn’t matter if you’ve been tested or not tested,” says Yaniv Erlich, who led the study. “You can be identified because the databases already cover such large fractions of the US, at least for European ancestry.”

Molteni says that Erlich and his co-authors have made recommendations to help keep this information safe: “They urged the US Department of Human Services to revise the scope of personally identifiable health information to include anonymized genomic data. And they outlined an encryption strategy that would create a chain of custody, so third-party databases could flag users trying to analyze genetic data that wasn’t their own. But even if every consumer genomics provider bought into this system, it might still not be enough.”

For more information, read the article.

'College Students as News Consumers' by Barbara Fister

In a Library Babel Fish blog post in Inside Higher Ed, Barbara Fister highlights a new study from Project Information Literacy that examines how college students keep up with the news. She says, “The good news is students are not indifferent to news, nor are they gullible. Only 8 percent said they don’t follow news at all, one explaining it seemed a distraction from academics. This was encouraging. I’ve informally polled students about their news habits for years, and their interest seems higher now than it was a decade or two ago. …

 “A large majority of students believe journalism is essential to democracy, and most feel they have a civic responsibility to be informed, but nearly half feel journalists inject bias into their stories. Perhaps that skepticism is exacerbated because news comes through multiple channels that have different incentives. Ad placement is an important revenue source for traditional news organizations, but it’s not their purpose. Targeted advertising is Facebook’s business, and these survey respondents are more likely to see news on Facebook or other social media channels than on news organizations’ own sites.”

Fister says that the study’s authors have some recommendations: “Of particular interest to librarians and faculty in the disciplines are the first three: give students practice sorting through and making sense of information in multiple formats, discuss current events in the classroom to model engagement and critical understanding of news, and develop better methods for teaching the evaluation of information.”

For more information, read the blog post.

Reuters Unveils List of Most Innovative Universities

Reuters rolled out its fourth annual ranking of the most innovative universities around the world—those that are most successful at “advancing science, inventing new technologies, and powering new markets and industries.” The data for it was sourced from tools such as Clarivate Analytics’ Derwent Innovation (patent filings) and Web of Science (research paper citations). Of the top 100 universities, 48 are in North America; they include Stanford University (#1), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (#2), and Harvard University (#3). There are 27 European universities on the list and 23 Asian universities.

According to Clarivate Analytics, “Germany and Japan are tied for second best-performing country, with nine universities each. South Korea has eight universities on the list; China, France and the United Kingdom each have 5; Switzerland has 3; Belgium, Canada, Israel and the Netherlands have 2, and Denmark and Singapore each have 1.”

For more information and to see the full list of universities, read the blog post.

Kudos Begins Project to Study Research Communication

Kudos is starting a research project to look at how, why, and when researchers communicate about their work; the broader context for this communication; and how it could change in the future. Kudos notes, “Findings will assist publishers in identifying new opportunities for mapping their skills and capabilities onto emerging researcher needs.”

“Researchers are under increased pressure to engage audiences with their work from as early as possible in the research process,” says Charlie Rapple, Kudos’ sales and marketing director and co-founder. “Taking a fresh view of their communications goals and challenges will help to identify areas of unmet need that may map well on to skills that already exist in publishing teams.”

Anyone interested in becoming a project partner can contact Rapple at

For more information, read the blog post.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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