TECH
PIXABAY
Weeding out the Phonies

CMU team's algorithm detects fake social media accounts, Yelp reviews

Hundreds of websites offer to pull in Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections and Facebook likes for social media users -- for a fee.

The accounts are called fraudsters, which social media networks and other websites constantly work to shut down, WESA reported.

"If a person has a lot of followers, this person can … demand more money from advertisers or look more important in a political campaign," Christos Faloutsos, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told WESA. "It pays off for an unscrupulous person to buy followers."

The professor advised a team of students who developed an an algorithm called FRAUDAR that can detect fraudsters' efforts to make fake accounts look real. The technology makes it easier to "determine if someone has faked an Amazon or Yelp review, or if a politician with a suspiciously large number of Twitter followers might have bought and paid for that popularity," CMU said in a statement.

Faloutsos' team -- doctoral students Bryan Hooi, Hyun Ah Song, Neil Shah and Kijung Shin, and recent doctoral graduate Alex Beutel -- used the project to win the Best Paper Award at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining this summer.

The team's algorithm seeks large amounts of users who are following the same smaller groups.

"It's near impossible to have 1,000 people follow exactly the same hundred targets," Faloutsos told WESA. "You can have a million people following (a few) famous people, like President Obama, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, but that's about it. This is a telltale sign of fraud."

In an experiment using Twitter data for 41.7 million users and 1.47 billion followers, FRAUDAR detected more than 4,000 accounts that had not been previously identified as fraudulent, CMU said. Some used known services that buy followers, such as TweepMe and TweeterGetter.

WORLD
Scientists report 'substantial' reduction in methane emissions

Can seaweed make cow farts less potent?

Early indications of a University of California, Davis study show that feeding dairy cows seaweed may reduce methane emissions caused by their defecation, belching and flatulence, the university announced Thursday.

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NATION
quite the prank

Missouri student put school for sale on Craigslist; he's banned from graduation

It was supposed to just be a senior prank. But Truman High School officials weren't laughing when they banned the student from his graduation.

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NATION
PLAYING WITH FIRE

Man trying to kill weeds with torch ... torches his garage

How's this for second-guessing your decisions?

As if there wasn't a better way to kill weeds — you know, like any one of hundreds of products you can buy at your local home or hardware store or just some elbow grease and gloves — an Ohio man resorted to a blow torch.

He might have killed the weeds.

But the bigger casualty was his detached garage.

The Springfield News-Sun reports firefighters were called to the home about 4 a.m. Thursday to find the garage engulfed in flames.

Officials say losses from the garage, which also was storing tools and appliances, are between $10,000 and $15,000.

The cost of embarrassment? Priceless.

NATION
STREET SMARTS

Man helps wife deliver their own baby on side of highway

Gotta do what you gotta do.

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NATION
background check

Pawn shop says they’re not Dick’s in AR-15 sign

A pawn shop in South Carolina is using the backlash against Dick's Sporting Goods recent policy change of not selling guns, to advertise that they sell guns and aren't Dick's.

The Crossroads Pawn and Audio in Little River, S.C., put up the sign last week which reads, "We sell AR-15's because we're not Dick's."

The company also posted a photo of the sign to their Facebook page Tuesday, which was met with mostly supportive comments.



Barbara Davey, a manager of the shop, spoke to local TV station WPDE and said, "It was a simple marketing idea is all it was."

She said that the sign was met with some pushback, but has brought in more business.

"We have a few people, you know, who weren't in favor of the sign but our positive feedback really outweighed that negative feedback," said Davey.

The store posted a statement on Monday explaining their stance on guns: "An AR15 is NOT a combat weapon or a tactical assault rifle. In no way are the horrific massacres happening to our children and in our schools acceptable. This violence must stop."

They also support the NRA.



In February, Dick's, based in Findlay, announced that they would no longer sell assault-style weapons and restrict gun sales to those older than 21.

NATION
What the cluck?

Crash dumps 40,000 pounds of chicken feathers on highway

A semi made a fowl mess when it rolled over on Interstate 5 north of Tacoma: It dumped about 40,000 pounds of chicken feathers across the roadway.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson says the driver told investigators he fell asleep at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and lost control of the truck, which hit a guardrail and overturned.


The truck was hauling the feathers from a Foster Farms poultry facility to West Coast Reduction, a rendering company based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company's website says it recycles animal byproducts into ingredients for many items, including pet feed and soap.

The News Tribune newspaper of Tacoma reports that the highway backed up for 11 miles as crews worked to scoop up the feathers. All lanes reopened by about 7:30 a.m.

Johnson said the driver would be cited for negligent driving.

CRIME
Why? Just why?

Florida man arrested for telling playground kids where babies come from

Honestly isn't always the best policy. Well, at least when you're being crude about it.

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NATION
Home rule

Parents take 30-year-old son to court — he won't move out

We swear we saw this movie.

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