In the Media
To detect threats and prevent suicides, schools pay company to scan students’ social media posts
WBUR -- 03/22/2018
Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox says social media scanning brings up another set of problems for law enforcement and school administrators.
To understand digital advertising, study its algorithms
The Economist -- 03/22/2018
Alan Mislove studies algorithms. Recently, his research at Northeastern University, in Boston, has shown that Facebook’s software was leaking users’ phone numbers to advertisers. He has also found new ways to audit that same software for racial bias. But work like his faces challenges. Scraping data from public-facing websites often sails close to breaching their terms and conditions. And the companies those websites belong to are generally unwilling to give researchers more direct access to their systems.
Suicide and solitary confinement in Massachusetts county jails
WGBH -- 03/21/2018
Joe Mathieu sat down with WGBH Legal Analyst and Northeastern law professor Daniel Medwed to talk about these lawsuits and why suicide rates in county jails are trending higher than in state prisons. Medwed explains that county jails are holding places for people awaiting trial or serving sentences of under two and half years. For many, it’s their first time behind bars, and it can be a shocking transition.
A typical small business website is attacked 44 times a day
The Washington Post -- 03/21/2018
“Small and medium-size businesses typically have fewer resources (e.g., money as well as knowledgeable people) to secure their IT infrastructure as well as maintain a good backup strategy,” Engin Kirda, professor of computer science at Northeastern University, told TechRepublic. “Hence, whenever a ransomware attack happens, they often end up having to pay the ransom to rescue their data.”…
Technology helps catch serial bombers, but ego is their biggest vulnerability
The Los Angeles Times -- 03/21/2018
Enzo Yaksic, who runs Northeastern University’s Atypical Homicide Research Group, said serial killers are enamored of the ability to control a community, and also hope to garner sympathies from those who might admire or commiserate with them.
It’s too late
Vice -- 03/21/2018
“Selling the data was nominally against Facebook’s developer terms, but so many of these apps were ephemeral, and as far as we know, there was little enforcement,” Alan Mislove, a researcher at Northeastern University who has studied data broker activity on Facebook’s platform, told me. “You can absolutely still use old data in the new system.”…
Texas bomber’s change in tactics could hint at future plans
Associated Press -- 03/20/2018
“Successful serial murderers are determined, adaptable and cognizant of their surroundings, which allows them to learn from their mistakes, improve their abilities and implement new tactics to remain steps ahead of those searching for them,” said Enzo Yaksic, co-director of Northeastern University’s Atypical Homicide Research Group.
Trump’s latest ideas to combat the opioid epidemic are also his dumbest
The Huffington Post -- 03/20/2018
“These sorts of laws already exist, so people shouldn’t be so outraged ― they should be outraged that they already exist and are on the books and haven’t been reformed,” said Leo Beletsky, an associate professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University.
The average SMB website is attacked 44 times per day
Tech Republic -- 03/20/2018
“Small and medium-size business typically have fewer resources (e.g., money as well as knowledgeable people) to secure their IT infrastructure as well as maintain a good backup strategy,” Engin Kirda, professor of computer science at Northeastern University, told TechRepublic. “Hence, whenever a ransomware attack happens, they often end up having to pay the ransom to rescue their data.”…
When towns lose their newspapers, disease detectives are left flying blind
Stat -- 03/20/2018
Social media cannot fill the gap created by the declining local news coverage, she and others involved in this type of research argued. “With Twitter … you are picking up a signal, but that signal might not be precise,” said Alessandro Vespignani, a professor at Northeastern University whose research focuses on modeling of epidemics. And social media reports can be simply wrong, he said — either by accident or design. News coverage “anchors” the signals picked up on social media, Vespignani said.
A ‘tough on drug dealers’ approach won’t work for opioid crisis, expert says
WBUR -- 03/20/2018
Leo Beletsky, an associate professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, spoke with Morning Edition Tuesday about President Trump’s “get tough” approach on combating the opioid epidemic.
Cambridge Analytica’s ad targeting is the reason Facebook exists
Vice -- 03/19/2018
“You have to proceed on the assumption that this information has been extracted from you,” Woodrow Hartzog, author of Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies, told me on the phone. “Cambridge Analytica used an information extraction technique that was well-known to technologists for years. The implications of this debacle is about crystallizing the threat about how dangerous the information ecosystem is.” “Once Facebook created the [data sharing] API, there was a land grab,” Christo Wilson, a researcher at Northeastern University who has studied Facebook advertising and third-party data sharing tactics, told me on the phone. “People were writing apps manically—photo of the day, quizzes, any sort of garbage people would install so you would have a big user base to take the data. It was a huge market back in the day. And there were absolutely cases where people developed Facebook apps for fun, got a huge user base, and then sold the apps for hundreds of thousands of dollars to a marketing company.”…