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YouTube boycott: How ISIS is changing digital ad rules forever

(TECH NEWS) In response to ads appearing next to ISIS videos, YouTube changed their content rules which has created more drama for the online video site.

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YouTube faux pas

It has been several weeks since hundreds of prominent advertisers pulled their ads from YouTube. As reported by The American Genius, ads of prominent companies inadvertently appeared next to extremist videos inciting violence. In that episode, brands as varied as HSBC, McDonald’s, AT&T, L’Oreal, and The Guardian parted ways with YouTube.

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In an especially embarrassing moment for Google, which owns YouTube, British government ads played next to ISIS videos, essentially providing the extremist group with taxpayer money.

Momentum change

Two recent developments suggest that YouTube’s nightmare isn’t over just yet. First, it appears that Google’s effort to mitigate the fallout might have proven too rigid.

The crackdown has unintentionally hurt a whole new group of people: video content creators.

Secondly, smelling blood, ad rivals have leapt at Google’s weaknesses to curb out every bit of market share they can from the tech giant.

Too lax to too strict

NPR Morning News Brief reported on April 13, that many content creators who post on the site are now criticizing YouTube for inefficiently changing the algorithms as a response to the ad placement fallout. The censorship has been so severe, they contend, that apparently harmless content is now in danger of being banned from the YouTube site.

This includes instances of minor “adult language,” which are no longer seen as “advertiser friendly.”

It seems that Google’s new technologies and controls to flag off offensive videos is not working properly. For instance, Ethan Klein of h3h3Productions reported to Laura Sydell of NPR that some YouTube videos containing the word “die” were taken down, irrespective of the non-violent context in which the word may have been spoken, for example “I could die of laughter.”

Similarly, the YouTube channel Real Women Real Stories, a woman advocacy group, reported that several of their videos got banned, even though the content talked about empowering survivors of sex trafficking and slavery, simply because of its graphic language, not video content.

Trying to appease the masses

YouTube is still struggling to accommodate the advertiser demands of more control over content display on one hand, and the freedom of expression of content creators on the other.

Google has promised “a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.”

Nevertheless, as an Irish Times article noted, “It is not possible for human monitoring and manual intervention to solve the problem of industrial hate speech. The scale of its advertising networks mean the kind of solution that is required will come in algorithmic form.”

And therein lies the rub

Algorithms are programmatic, i.e., automated ad trading systems. Advertisers can never have full awareness or control of where their ads will be placed online. That is because advertisers do not book ads with particular brands anymore.

They pay intermediaries to target specific demographics, and the dissemination process is incredibly complex.

And yet, the YouTube crisis underlined the pitfalls of a completely automated advertising. There is a real demand a “curated market” for digital ads.

Get them while they’re down

That is where Google competitors like MediaMath Inc. come in. This New York-based software seller for online ad buying is introducing a new service to ensure ads run on “high quality” contents only.

“We’re developing for the largest brands in the world who need to be assured of a safe environment for digital advertising,” said Erich Wasserman, MediaMath’s co-founder.

“We’re happily able to do this at a time when the market is shouting for it.”

Similarly, mobile ad company Kargo Global Inc. signed a deal with NBCUniversal to place digital ads in a controlled environment: 300 digital properties across 70 companies. Kargo CEO Harry Kargman said “The YouTube boycott was a gift. We were prepared for a drawn out fight. Basically, the market has done it for us.”

Barely a scratch

YouTube boycott will have minimal impact in Google’s sales, most analysts agree. In the UK, despite the ad fiasco, internet ad spending crossed 10 billion pounds, most of it going to Google and Youtube. Google’s pockets are too deep, their clients too varied.

Clients will not be able to ignore YouTube—where 400 hours of videos are uploaded every minute— for long either.Click To Tweet

However, the fiasco is sure to rewrite the rules (and a hell lot of algorithms) of how ads are delivered to your screen, forever.

#YouTube

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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