Online Learning’s Toll on Kids’ Privacy

We Mailed 100 Letters to Test the Postal Service ; Scientists Baffled by Orcas Ramming Sailing Boats ; and More Picks

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The author writes, “The shift to online schooling is running roughshod over children’s privacy rules and rights, experts say, and creating new inequalities. Minors are the only group that enjoys federal online privacy protections in the US, but that’s not enough to protect their privacy rights as school districts and teachers scramble to move all classwork to the internet amid the pandemic. ... If companies don’t maintain rigorous data security and privacy practices, children’s personal information, photos and video could end up in the wrong hands.” Photo credit: steamXO / Flickr
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Whistleblower Says Facebook Ignored Global Political Manipulation (Russ)

The author writes, “Facebook ignored or was slow to act on evidence that fake accounts on its platform have been undermining elections and political affairs around the world, according to an explosive memo sent by a recently fired Facebook employee. … The 6,600-word memo, written by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang, is filled with concrete examples of heads of government and political parties in Azerbaijan and Honduras using fake accounts or misrepresenting themselves to sway public opinion. In countries including India, Ukraine, Spain, Brazil, Bolivia, and Ecuador, she found evidence of coordinated campaigns of varying sizes to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes, though she did not always conclude who was behind them.”

No Democrats Allowed: A Conservative Lawyer Holds Secret Voter Fraud Meetings With State Election Officials (Reader Pat)

The author writes, “Starting in early spring, as the coronavirus took hold, a conservative lawyer at the forefront of raising alarms about voting by mail held multiple private briefings exclusively for Republican state election officials. … The lawyer, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, is a leading purveyor of the notion that voter fraud is rampant, claims that have been largely discredited. … GOP congressional staffers and a Trump administration appointee have also joined in these meetings, which were open to officials from states across the country, including Missouri and Nevada, the records show. No Democratic state election officials appear to have been invited.”

We Mailed 100 Letters to Test the Postal Service. The Verdict: Spotty at Best, Dismal at Worst (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “The letter — filled with stickers for a 5-year-old boy named William — was mailed at the post office in the Los Angeles community of Sylmar on Aug. 22. It was sent first class, at a cost of 55 cents, and with a promise, according to the U.S. Postal Service website, of ‘delivery in 1-3 business days.’ The plain white envelope arrived at its destination, a ranch-style house in Austin, Texas, 11 days later.”

As Football Returns, Data Affirm Post-COVID Heart Risks for Athletes (Mili)

From MedPage Today: “As the NFL season kicked off with its first game … and college football gets going in earnest, yet more data emerged on the myocarditis risk of COVID-19 in athletes. Of 26 competitive athletes at Ohio State University scanned with cardiac MRI (CMR) after asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID-19, four (15%) had findings suggestive of myocarditis. Two of these had pericardial effusion; two had shortness of breath, while the others had no symptoms of myocarditis.”

Scientists Baffled by Orcas Ramming Sailing Boats (Dana)

The author writes, “Scientists have been left baffled by incidents of orcas ramming sailing boats along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.”

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