The Five Best Things: Oct 17, 2020

Truth and trust on the Internet

It’s that time of the year! I spent 2 hours today building a spreadsheet to maximize employer HSA contributions while minimizing employee out-of-pocket costs for a family of 4 with 2 earners. What did you do for entertainment on your Saturday?

The Five Best Things

  1. Wired: How Twitter Survived Its Biggest Hack—and Plans to Stop the Next One

    • This article covers the events surrounding the major hack that verified accounts -- such as Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Kanye West -- suffered on July 15, where their accounts announced a fraudulent Bitcoin sale. It then covers the changes that Twitter is adopting to prevent these and other attacks leading up to the U.S. Election in November. Some notable tidbits - verified accounts are still handled manually, Twitter was without a Chief Security Officer at the time, and every employee at Twitter was locked out that day and had to change their password in the presence of their manager.

    • I’m glad Twitter has finally hired a CSO at the end of September, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to ramp up for what could be the largest mis- and dis-information event coming up in a few weeks. Twitter’s plan appears to be watching posts with rising levels of inorganic engagement like a hawk, flash-checking their veracity and taking them down ASAP, with a lot of manual intervention. Twitter has been dealing with some backlash of late with its algorithm for photo cropping accused of bias against people of color, and plans to reduce its reliance on ML tools. At the same time, there are very serious concerns of deepfakes spreading unchecked on Twitter, including this very creepy one where a victim of the Parkland school shooting was re-animated (with his parents permission) to implore folks to vote in this election.

  2. BuiltIn: The Internet Should Be More Like Wikipedia

  3. Propublica: Inside the Fall of the CDC

    • This long article chronicles the American CDC’s excruciating fall from grace, leading up to and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Spoiler alert: it’s due to political interference, inflated hubris, slashed budgets and short-sighted decision making that has led to massive deaths and an irreparable loss of trust in one of America’s most vaunted institutions -- a model that has been copied around the world. Some of the guerilla tactics and lone ranger efforts of Dr. Schuchat and McGowan are mentioned.

    • Propublica is a non profit investigative news publisher, much in the vein of Wikipedia above. Make this the one thing you read this week. I had no idea the CDC was involved in the shameful experiments on the Tuskegee, in which federal doctors withheld medicine from poor Black men with syphilis, then tracked their descent into blindness, insanity and death.

  4. Daniel Jeffries in Towards Data Science: Rise of the Canonical Stack in Machine Learning

  5. Stanford University on Twitter -

Honorable Mentions

Job Drop

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not represent my employer.