Your Google Home Is Listening To You – Digital News Roundup – 19.07.19
Get ready for the weekend with our roundup of all things digital, including Twitter’s redesign, a new Facebook ad tool, Google smart speaker controversy, Facebook’s record-breaking FTC fine, and how Instagram is removing like numbers.
So it turns out your Google Home has been listening to you… 😬
Twitter’s new desktop experience is here – and people are excited
Twitter has announced that its updated Twitter.com experience will start rolling out to all users, following select testing over the past few months.
The update boasts a range of new features, including the addition of Explore on desktop, as well as easy access to features like Bookmarks and Lists – which now appear in the side nav. An expanded Direct Messages view will make it easier than ever to slide into those DMs, while two new options for dark mode (emo for life) and a host of different themes means there are tons of new ways to customise your experience.
For marketers, the ability to switch between accounts faster is undoubtedly one of the most appealing changes – with multiple profiles now accessible from the side navigation. Social media marketers rejoice!
The desktop rebuild has received largely positive feedback across the digital world, so keep an eye out for it coming to your profiles this week – and let us know what you think! Check out more at Social Media Today.
Facebook launches ad reporting tool with Martin Lewis
As the result of a partnership between the platform and Martin Lewis, Facebook has launched a new ad reporting tool designed to let people report ads which they feel may be scammy or misleading.
The tool comes following Lewis’ legal action against Facebook, caused by his face appearing in ads plugging “questionable investment schemes”. The ad reporting tool will be unique to the UK, and will mean users can flag ads that they think are misleading, or could be scams. You can do this by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of the Facebook ad, clicking “Report ad”, then “Misleading or scam ad” and then “Send a detailed scam report”.
““Millions of people know a scam when they see it, and millions of others don’t. So now, I’d ask all who recognise them to use the new Facebook reporting tool, to help protect those who don’t – which includes many who are vulnerable,” explained Martin Lewis, who hopes that the process will “squash the number of scam ads”. Take a look at the full story over on Net Imperative.
Google defends its ability to listen to conversations through Google Home devices
Google has spoken out in defense of its ability to listen to its Google Home customers through their smart speakers, claiming that “it helps improve its artificial intelligence voice recognition systems”.
In a blog post, Google said that its language experts only review around 0.2% of audio recordings, although it did admit that some recordings had been leaked by a worker in the Netherlands. Hmm….
Supposedly audio is only collected when “wake words” are detected, which signal a person interacting with the device. In this case, something like “Hey Google”. However, Google did admit that this recording could be triggered by mistake, resulting in varied recordings being sent for analysis.
Both Google and Amazon, who has faced similar scrutiny with its Alexa devices, claim that the recordings are anonymised before being analysed, but it once again raises questions around the security of smart speaker devices – which only continue to rise in popularity. Read more at The Independent.
Facebook hit with record-breaking $5 billion fine for privacy violations
Facebook has been slapped with a $5 billion fine for privacy violations by the FTC – an amount that’s more than “200x the next largest monetary penalty” imposed by the commission.
The fine relates to violations of a “2011 consent decree” which stated that the company had to better protect the privacy of its users. As well as the fine, Facebook has supposedly agreed to a comprehensive review of how it handles user data, although no stipulations have been made which will restrict Facebook’s rights to collect and share data with third parties.
The FTC investigated the social media platform for more than a year, triggered by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with the fine now confirmed in a supposed 3-2 vote. Before this, the largest penalty was a $22 million penalty given to Google in 2012, so perhaps this indicates a new era of “aggressive enforcement” from the Federal Trade Commission. Check out more on the fine at Marketing Land.
Google bans Chinese app developer CooTek from Play store
Google is banning CooTek, a publicly traded Chinese app developer, from its Play store and ad platforms, following an investigation into its “disruptive ad” practices.
BuzzFeed News and a security company compiled evidence that CooTek’s apps continued to “bombard users” with disruptive ads, violating Google’s developer policies. “Our Google Play developer policies strictly prohibit malicious and deceptive behavior, as well as disruptive ads. When violations are found, we take action,” a Google spokesperson said.
CooTek first encountered negativity publicity last month, when it was first found to be using an adware plug-in that triggered disruptive ads. The company claimed that it had removed and replaced the bad plug-in, but this recent research found that disruptive ad tools were still being used in the updated apps. As a result, more than 60 CooTek apps have been removed from the Play store, with Google saying more may disappear as it continues to enforce the decision.
Check out more on the news, including possible implications, over at BuzzFeed News.
Instagram hiding like numbers in test designed ‘to remove social pressure’
Instagram is running a trial in which it hides the number of likes on posts, in a bid to remove the pressure that some users feel.
The trial, which began this week in countries such as Australia, Ireland, Italy and Japan, will mean that users see a user name “and others” below posts, rather than the total number of likes. While the Instagrammer who shared the post in question will still be able to view the number of likes their images get, it’s hoped that not making this information public will prevent the feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy from some of the platform’s younger users.
Mia Garlick, Facebook Australia and New Zealand director of policy, said: “We hope this test will remove the pressure of how many likes a post will receive, so you can focus on sharing the things you love.” Businesses who use measurement tools to track Instagram engagement will not be affected by the update, however. Read more on the trial over at BBC News.
Just like that, the week is almost over. Check out some of our recent blogs, including a look at why people complain on social media, or enjoy your weekend. Have a good one.
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