Alexa Is Your New Doctor – Digital News Roundup – 12.07.19

by | Jul 12, 2019 | News

Another week, another dose of digital news. This time we’re talking new anti-bullying features on Instagram, updates for Facebook creators, the NHS partnering with Alexa, Twitter’s policy issues, and the latest probe into the digital ad market.

Home > News > Alexa Is Your New Doctor – Digital News Roundup – 12.07.19


Instagram’s standing up for you & Alexa is your new doctor… cor! What a week in digital and technology news.


Instagram testing new anti-bullying features to protect users 

Instagram is testing a new feature designed to stop online bullying, whereby users will be able to restrict specific accounts from commenting on their posts. 

The move will let users “shadow ban” another user from their account, making their comments visible only to themselves, and hiding when they’re online or when they’ve read a direct message. 

The Facebook-owned site also announced a new feature which will use AI to flag offensive comments, where a commenter will be asked if they want to follow through with posting or have the opportunity to undo their comment. According to Instagram, tests showed the query “encouraged “some” people to reflect and undo what they wrote” – although “some” is hardly a solid measure of success. 

The updates and tests are another example of Instagram trying to do more to prevent bullying on the platform, although previous research has found that teens are finding ways around the blockers – such as creating entire hate accounts dedicated to bullying a specific person. Hopefully the new features will provide a more immediate response option for users experiencing harassment. Check out more at The Verge.  


Facebook launches a host of new updates for creators in a bid to dominate the space

Facebook has announced a new array of updates designed to “provide creators with more opportunities to make money” – in a bid to compete with YouTube for the attention of creators. 

The tools are intended to help creators “engage their fans, manage their presence, and build a business”, as well as growing their audiences overall. Updates to the Brand Collabs Manager will give access to improved performance insights and audience metrics, while a new feature within Ad Breaks will give creators access to more options for video ad placements – if they meet Facebook’s Monetisation Eligibility Standards. 

Creator Studio has also seen an update, with a Monetisation Overview section added, audience and retention insights, and the option to manage Instagram posts and IGTV all from within the program. 

These changes are yet another move from Facebook to compete with other content-driven platforms, namely YouTube, and entice creators to make more use of the features it has available. New revenue options could prove enticing, particularly if collaborations between brands and creators can be a more seamless process. Take a look at the full story at Marketing Land.  


Does Twitter need new rules, or does it just need to enforce the old ones?

This week saw Twitter reveal an update to its rules on hateful conduct, designed to solve its previous issues around dehumanising speech – particularly on the basis of religion.

The surprise was that the original dehumanising speech policy announcement back in 2018 barely mentioned religion, and was intended to be more all-encompassing. Now it seems that Twitter has decided that “religion was the easiest place to start in implementing the policy” – a move which feels drastically overdue. And a move which feels pretty similar to the existing banned conduct outlines already stated in the Twitter rules. 

While Twitter has said that this is only a first step towards ensuring that users on the platform are protected, perhaps it’s more important that the policies are actually applied rather than new policies being created. According to data released by Twitter, of the 11 million unique accounts that were reported between July and December 2018, action was only sought against 250,806. 

Maybe this points to Twitter needing to work on the way that it enforces its policies, rather than adding new ones. Read more on the news at The Verge.


Amazon’s Alexa partnering with the NHS to deliver medical advice in the UK

The NHS has announced a partnership with Amazon’s Alexa to offer health advice for users, in what they claim is a world first move. 

Previously, when Alexa users asked questions like “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?” answers were pulled from places like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. Now, however, Alexa will pull answers that have been vetted by NHS health professionals, or come straight from the NHS website.

The move is designed to help “reduce the pressure on health professionals” through giving people access to “reliable medical advice”. While medical professionals have praised the way the tech could help patients to decipher the type of care they require, they have also specified that, if not properly tested, it could “prevent people seeking proper medical help” – potentially putting more strain on GPs or A&Es. Take a look at the full story at The Verge

FTC recommends YouTube disables ads on child-specific content to protect young users

YouTube is once again facing trouble from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – this time around whether ads should be disabled on certain channels to help safeguard child privacy. 

The FTC has recommended that YouTube disable ads on certain content creators’ channels, with the aim of limiting the collection of data from children under the age of 13 without a parent’s consent. While YouTube has already considered moving all children’s content to a separate platform, many have theorised that “any product labelled as ‘kids’ simply won’t attract kids over the age of eight” – meaning that the issue of children using the main YouTube site would not be resolved. 

“The content that kids watch on YouTube today isn’t obviously ‘kids’ content [such as] sports videos and animal videos. So while it’s a good step, it doesn’t solve the issue of kids on YouTube,” explained Dylan Collins, chief executive officer of SuperAwesome.

However, industry experts have said that shifting the burden onto content creators will not solve the issue either – and could simply mean that many choose not to identify as children’s content owners in a bid to continue to be able to monetise their videos. Check out more on the recommendations, and the next steps, over at The Drum


UK government to investigate the impact of digital ad market & the risk it poses

An investigation into digital advertising and the use of consumer data has been launched by the government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – with potentially “far-reaching implications” for the industry.

The investigation will cover the “market power” of online platforms, and the way their dominance affects consumers. It will also look at the control people have over the data that’s collected and used by platforms like Facebook, with the option for the CMA to make recommendations to the government if it finds problems within the digital ad market. 

The announcement follows on from UK chancellor Philip Hammond stating that he would be using his spring budget to call for “greater regulation” in the digital space – part of a wider digital markets strategy. With companies like Google and Facebook already facing major scrutiny from regulators across the world, it will be interesting to see whether this is the next step in a long line of controversy for the digital giants. Read more at The Drum


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