Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Fun Size for 9/1/23: Facebook’s Canada news blackout

No news is bad news 

In case you missed it: In June, Canada passed legislation requiring tech companies to pay news organizations for using their content. Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, said this was unworkable and in August began blocking news content on its sites. Google announced that later this year, it too will block links to news sites. CNET suggests alternatives for news-seeking Canadians. Do we hear a Bing?

Fake food fights 

Many familiar food items enjoy protected status in the EU, where producers of regional items like French champagne, Greek feta and Parma ham are constantly battling food fakers churning out imitation versions of Europe’s iconic products. QR codes, microchips, holograms and invisible ink are just some of the ways food producers are fighting back, says the Wall Street Journal.

Scans off my body! 

It’s not just Hollywood writers worrying about AI replacing their jobs. NPR learned some movie background actors (aka extras) were caught off guard when their studios insisted on making scans of their bodies. Theoretically, these would only be used in the current production, but union reps are concerned. Frets one actor, "It's getting into this gray area of, 'what are they going to use it for in the future?'" Guess.

Set your heart racing 

Now here’s a good case for audio archives. As Jaguar shifts to producing only electric vehicles, the company has recorded the sound of the last F-Type Jaguar V-8 combustion engine roaring through its eight-speed transmission. The recording will live on in the collection of the British Library, reports Vroom vroom.

At the book-ban barricades 

Dashka Slater is author of The 57 Bus, the 10th most frequently challenged book in Texas (top 5 in Tennessee, 35th in the U.S.). In a Mother Jones essay, she makes an articulate plea for those advocates of the right to read to come to school board and statehouse meetings in the same numbers as the would-be book banners. “Frankly,” she says, “we need our allies to start showing up.”

Get what you want by asking nicely 

Researchers at Wharton were surprised to find that using voice search rendered better results than typing into a search engine. One reason, they theorize, could be that we’ve been trained by Siri and other home assistants to ask specific, detailed questions in order to get the desired results. In other words, we think before we speak.

Remove yourself from Search results 

Doxxers, harassers and stalkers may have to work a little harder soon. Google has updated its Search feature, making it easier for people to know when personal information about them pops up in a Google Search and ask for it to be removed. Other tweaks include improved parental controls and the ability to request images that you posted and now regret be taken down and deleted from its search results, according to Engadget.

Forget serendipity, show us the data 

As of May 1, Amazon required its employees to return to the office at least three days a week. Three months later, employees are demanding Amazon provide data to prove the benefits of working on-site. There’s no data that would stand scrutiny, says the Amazon Web Services CEO, who believes that “serendipity” and innovation are more likely to result when workers gather in person, reports the Seattle Times. Employees would like to see some proof.