Morning Toolbox – October 19, 2012 – Charts, Twitter, Robocalls and more

Morning Toolbox is a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that skeptics can use online.

I’ve talked about fake online reviews on Virtual Skeptics once or twice. Yelp is trying to clamp down on this, they are putting red ‘consumer alert’ banners on businesses they detect doing it. Here’s a project for skeptics: scan the site for pseudoscience and paranormal businesses that have earned one of these.

Read on for more about online skeptic tools…

Twitter plans to drop support for accessing the service via RSS feeds, but until then they are still useful for certain things. Jo Brodie has some tips on what still works. She’s also got some advice if you need to see the tweets of someone who has blocked you on Twitter.

Illegal telemarketing “robocalls” continue to be a problem in the US, and are often the source of scams. The US FTC is offering $50,000 for someone to come up with a good solution to stop them.

Here’s some graphing tools skeptics will love – they create charts in the style of the often skeptical XKCD webcomic.

A few months back Mike Adams ranted about how Google had shut down the ad account of detox peddlers, I talked about it on the very first episode of Virtual Skeptics (around 49 minutes in). Google was only complying with FDA regulations, and was doing nothing unusual. Here’s an infographic about how Google keeps ads safe from bogus products (like detox).

Bad Astronomer has a plug for the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose.org and science education.

Follow me on Twitter at @krelnik.  You can submit stories there or via submit at whatstheharm.net.

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About Tim Farley
Focused on online misinformation, Tim Farley is a software engineer, computer security expert and scientific skeptic who created the site What's The Harm. He is a Past Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

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