Google Redesigns Mobile Search & Instagram Compromises Millions – Digital News Roundup – 24.05.19
Another long weekend lies ahead – aren’t we lucky? This week we’re talking about Instagram exposing user data, the latest Huawei drama, a redesign to Google’s mobile SERPs, and how the Underground will track your data.
Contact details of almost 50 million users Instagram users compromised online
TechCrunch has this week outed Instagram for exposing users’ data, including the “contact details of nearly 50 million people”, which were stored on an unprotected web database.
The data, which included records like names, phone numbers and email addresses, included information on “high profile social media influencers”. The database has been traced back to a company called Chtrbox, which was held on an Amazon server with no password protection. News of the issue was leaked to TechCrunch by a researcher working at the facility, with the database now having been taken offline.
Instagram said it is looking into the matter and trying to discover where the data came from – and whether it was from Instagram or “other sources”. Chtrbox, however, is yet to make a statement. Read more on the breach over at Digital Marketing Magazine.
Google blocks rival Huawei in latest US trade drama
As the latest move in the ongoing drama around tech brand Huawei, Google has now blocked the company from “utilising the latest updates to its Android operating system” – following the decision to add Huawei to a list of companies blacklisted by the US government.
The blacklist status means that American companies can’t “trade with Huawei or hand over technology without first obtaining a license”. Now, with Google’s ban, there’s a chance the Chinese smartphone maker won’t be able to access some apps – although the company has been trying to reduce its reliance on third parties for a while.
Existing Huawei users won’t be affected, and will still be able to update apps and access security fixes through the Play store, although it’s unclear whether the story will stay the same when the next version of Android launches later this year. Moving forward, this could mean that Huawei devices won’t be able to access things like YouTube and Google Maps – unless it makes use of an open source version of the software. Read more on the freeze, and the implications, at The Drum.
London Underground will start tracking all phones connected to its Wi-Fi
Following a pilot back in 2016, Transport for London (TfL) will start “tracking passengers’ phones on the London Underground by default” from early July, in a move designed to identify how people move through the capital’s transport system.
Wi-Fi access points in 260 of the capital’s stations will be used to track customers using their phones’ MAC addresses – which are automatically sent to Wi-Fi access points when a phone tries to connect. Because of the way the system works, the only way to opt-out will be to turn off your phone’s Wi-Fi entirely.
Tfl has said that the tracking will allow them to better understand how people use the Tube network and “provide better real-time information about crowding levels in stations”, as well as giving advertisers information on the areas with the highest volume of foot traffic. For example, if a high number of customers use a certain corridor in a station, potential advertisers will be able to see this information.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) worked closely with Tfl on the scheme and found no issues. Keep an eye out for the new signs in stations announcing the tracking program, or read more at The Verge.
YouTube to start abbreviating subscriber counts later this year to increase consistency across apps
YouTube has announced that it will be changing the way it displays subscriber counts from later this year, making things more consistent across its apps and clients.
As part of the move, Google’s video site will move to show abbreviated subscriber counts, rather than the full number of users subscribed to a channel. As part of the announcement, Google explained that “currently all creators with over 1,000 subscribers see their subscriber counts displayed differently in different places across YouTube desktop and mobile apps. In some cases, the subscriber count is abbreviated (e.g., 133k) and in other places, we display the full count (e.g., 133,017)”. To avoid this, the truncated version will now show everywhere, with the only exception being for accounts with under 1,000 followers – where the exact number will show until the threshold has been reached.
YouTube has said that it knows that “subscriber counts are extremely important for creators and fans alike,” with the public reaction so far being mixed – particularly around concerns that third party sites that rely on YouTube’s API services will be affected.
This update is set to happen in August, with YouTube saying it will provide more details nearer the time. Check it out over on the 9 to 5 Google blog.
Google announces roll out of mobile search redesign
It was announced on Wednesday that Google will be rolling out a “new look” for Search results on mobile, including a new way of showing text ads and organic listings.
The move will include the full roll-out of the black “Ad” label Google has been testing, which will show at the top of the ad, with the display URL also in black. For organic listings, there’s a new favicon display, where the site name and breadcrumbs appear in black next to the favicon – rather than in green below the title. The grey line below the organic titles will also be removed, making each card “look more like a single unit”.
Google has said the move will allow them to “add more action buttons and helpful previews to search results cards”, as well as giving a “better sense of the web page’s content, with clear attribution back to the source”.
Experts say that the move continues to set the stage for Google evolving the content types shown in SERPs, with advertisers and SEOs advised to watch out for potential impacts following the roll out over the next few days. Read more on the story, including more detail on the changes, at Search Engine Land.
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