Digital News Roundup – 11 January

by | Jan 11, 2019 | News

Welcome back to another year packed full of digital news. This time around, we’re talking about the highlights from CES, some new features in Google’s Rich Results tool, the cost of influencer fraud, and an unfortunate situation over at Huawei.

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All of the highlights from CES 2019

This week sees the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, invade Las Vegas – bringing with it a massive influx of entrepreneurs, startups and big brands all flaunting their latest technological must-haves.

We’ve seen a host of new trends appearing throughout the week-long event. Health monitoring has been a big focus, including a smart belt from Welt which “monitors your health by measuring your waist size, levels of overeating and physical activity”. There was also a wearable bladder ultrasound sensor to tell people when they need to pee – we’ll leave that one there.

Smart home tech was another key focus, with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa cropping up within all sorts of new hardware; including a device which allows garden parasol’s to be controlled by voice.

Noticeably absent, however, were the flexible smartphones people were expecting to take over the show. Samsung, in particular, kept their tech under wraps, choosing to focus instead on talking about 5G. Chinese-American company Royale, however, used the event as the international debut for its foldable FlexPai, which got a great response from the crowd, so it will be interesting to see how the big brands match up later this year.

Check out more on the best from CES from Trusted Reviews, or read more on the rise of smart assistants at the shows at the BBC.

Google updates Rich Results testing tool to support code editing


This week saw Google announce updates to its Rich Results Test tool, which will mean that webmasters can edit code and see what impact this would have on their results in real time.

The changes, which were announced as part of the Chrome Developer Summit earlier this week, are designed to give users more tools to adapt and improve their rich snippets. These rich results include anything from carousels and images to ratings and “other non-textual user interface elements”, going beyond the “standard blue link” to give users more context on what a site contains.

Now, webmasters and SEOs should be able to make more confident changes to their code thanks to the ability to see the impact instantly. To have a go for yourself, check out this sample page, or read more on the news over at Search Engine Land.


Huawei disciplines staff members following tweet sent from iPhone


Two Huawei employees have had a rocky start to the year, thanks to a tweet going out on the brand’s official verified Twitter account – through an Apple iPhone.

Agency Publicis.Sapient sent the tweet on behalf of Huawei on New Year’s Eve, and it didn’t take long for users to spot that the tweet was labelled “Twitter for iPhone”. While it was fairly swiftly deleted, screenshots and comments had already gone viral on Weibo.

An internal memo blamed the mistake on ‘VPN problems’, which caused an employee at the agency to use an iPhone with a roaming SIM card in order to send the message on time. VPN’s are used in China to access platforms like Twitter and Facebook, due to the sites being blocked in the country – a detail which stitched them up this time around.

Unfortunately, that explanation wasn’t enough to save the two employees, one being Huawei’s digital marketing director, who have had their pay reduced and their income frozen for a year. Ouch. Read more on the story over at The Drum.


Study finds Instagram influencer fraud is costing brands billions


New research has highlighted how almost a quarter of a billion dollars could have been wasted as a result of fraudulent accounts on Instagram, amid the platform’s crackdown on such activity.

Captiv8, marketing specialists in the US, have revealed that $2.1bn was spent on influencer-sponsored Instagram posts in 2017. However, they also found that more than 11% of engagement on those posts was generated from fraudulent accounts.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time people have noticed the impact of fraudulent activity on Instagram, or social media platforms as a whole. Unilever’s chief marketing officer called for urgent action to tackle influencer fraud last year, as well as announcing that the company would “no longer work with influencers who buy followers on social media”.

Facebook is attempting to solve the issue, deleting inauthentic accounts on Instagram and removing more than 1.5bn fake accounts across its platform. But this data shows that brands will need to stay on top of their influencer authentication process to ensure that their marketing budgets are not being wasted on bots. Check out more at City AM.


Funding set to boost older people’s digital skills in through smart homes in West Essex


Older people in West Essex will be offered ‘digital buddies’ to teach them how to use technology in a number of “smart homes”, thanks to an initiative led by Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service.  

As part of the project, assessed homeowners will have their houses fitted with the latest tech, and will then be shown how to use the smart devices to do things like shop online, video call family and friends, book Drs appointments, or control household appliances.

The programme is backed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and is one of three to be given a share of £400,000 through the Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund, to improve the lives of older or disabled people.

“Thanks to the Digital Inclusion Fund, our exciting Living Smart Homes and Digital Buddies pilots will help us rethink how older people use digital to support their health, wellbeing and independence,” explains Clive Emmett, chief executive of Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service. The funding will also help in the creation of an app for overweight or obese Down’s Syndrome sufferers, who will then be able to manage their weight and exercise via their smartphone. Find out more on the services over at Digital Health.


Zuckerberg announces plans for public tech discussions in 2019


Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to hold a “series of public discussions” in 2019, covering the subject of technology and its future in society.

Zuckerberg announced that the talks, which will involve “leaders, experts, and people in our community”, will be his personal challenge for 2019 – with past challenges including learning Mandarin, visiting every US state, and building an AI for his home. This challenge comes from the talks putting Zuckerberg outside of his comfort zone – “I’m going to put myself out there more than I’ve been comfortable with and engage more in some of these debates about the future, the tradeoffs we face, and where we want to go,” he explains.

The talks, which will all be public, either on Facebook, Instagram, or other media outlets, have received mixed reviews. While some support the approach, others have said that perhaps this isn’t a particularly good use of Zuckerberg’s time. This is particularly true during the friction the brand is experiencing at this time – with new allegations of law-breaking in Vietnam just emerging, accusing the site of allowing anti-government posts to be shared.

It looks like 2019 isn’t set to be much easier than 2018 for the social mega brand. Read more on the proposed plans over at BBC News.


And just like that, the week is over. Check back next week to stay up to date on the happenings of the digital world, or head over to our blog for more fun things to read. You know you want to.


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