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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.




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.

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.


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.

Tech News

Snap a business card pic, Microsoft app finds ’em on LinkedIn

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft Pix is teaming with LinkedIn in a neat way that will benefit networking, especially if you have any lazy bones in your body.



microsoft pix

Have you ever been watching some sort of action-adventure movie where there’s a command center with all sorts of unbelievable technology that kind of blows your mind? Well, every day we come closer and closer to living within that command center.

You may think that I’m talkin’ crazy, but check this out – there is a new technology that can scan a business card, and find the business card’s owner on LinkedIn. (Can I get a “say what????!”)

This app is courtesy of Microsoft and goes by the name Pix (it’s not new, but this function is).

The way it works is simple: Bill Jones hands you his business card, you fire up the Pix app (currently only on the iPhone. Sorry, Droids), you snap a picture of the card and the app takes the details (phone number, company, etc.) and finds Bill on LinkedIn. Bingo.

It also will automatically take that information and will create a new profile for Bill Jones within your phone’s contacts. After you scan the business card through Pix, Microsoft will ask if you want to take action.

At this point, Pix will recognize and capture phone numbers, email addresses, and URLs. If your phone is logged into LinkedIn, the apps will work together to find Bill’s profile. Part of me wants to think that this is kind of creepy but a larger part of me thinks that it’s really cool.

According to Microsoft Research’s Principal Program Manager, Josh Weisberg, “Pix is powered by AI to streamline and enhance the experience of taking a picture with a series of intelligent actions: recognizing the subject of a photo, inferring users’ intent and capturing the best quality picture.”

“It’s the combination of both understanding and intelligently acting on a users’ intent that sets Pix apart. Today’s update works with LinkedIn to add yet another intelligent dimension to Pix’s capabilities.”

Pix itself originally launched in 2016 as a way to compete against AI’s ability to edit a photo by use of exposure, focus, and color. This new integration in working with LinkedIn is a time saver, and is beneficial for those who collect business cards like candy and forget to actually do something with them.

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Walmart and the blockchain, sitting in a tree

(TECH NEWS) Say goodbye to #foodwaste with Walmart’s new smart package delivery proposal featuring everyone’s favorite pal, blockchain.




Following the trend of adding “smart” as a prefix to any word to make it futuristic, Walmart now proposes “smart packages.” The retail giant filed for a new patent to improve their shipping and package tracking process using blockchain.

Last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released the application, which was filed back in August 2017.

Officially, the application notes the smart package will have “a body portion having an inner volume” and “a door coupled to the body portion” that can be open or closed to restrict or allow access to the package contents.

In other words, they’ve patented a box with a door on it that also has lots of monitoring devices.

Various iterations lay claim to all versions of said box include smart packaging utilizing a combination of monitoring devices, modular adapters, autonomous delivery vehicles, and blockchain.

Monitoring devices would regulate location tracking, inner content removal, and environmental conditions of the package like temperature and humidity. This could help reduce loss of products sensitive to environmental changes, like fresh produce.

Modular adapters perform these actions as well, and also ensure the package has access to a power source and the delivery vehicle’s security system to prevent theft.

Blockchain comes into play with a delivery encryption system, monitoring, authenticating, and registering packages. As it moves through the supply chain, packages will be registered throughout the process.

The blockchain would be hashed with private key addresses of sellers, couriers, and buyers to track the chain of custody. Every step of the shipping process would be documented, providing greater accountability and easier record keeping.

This isn’t Walmart’s first foray into the world of blockchain. Last year they teamed up with Nestle, Kroger, and other food companies in a partnership with IBM to improve food traceability with blockchain.

Walmart also took part in a similar food tracking program in China with last year as well.

And let’s not forget Walmart’s May 2017 USPTO application to use blockchain tech for package delivery via unmanned drones. Their more recent application builds on the drone idea, which also proposed tracking packages with blockchain and monitoring product conditions during delivery.

In their latest application, Walmart notes, “online customers many times seek to purchase items that may require a controlled environment and further seek to have greater security in the shipping packaging that the items are shipped in.”

Implementing blockchain and smart package monitoring as part of the shipping process could greatly reduce product loss and improve shipment tracking.

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Experts warn of actual AI risks – we’re about to live in a sci fi movie

(TECH NEWS) A new report on AI indicates that the sci fi dystopias we’ve been dreaming up are actually possible. Within a few short years. Welp.



AI robots

Long before artificial intelligence (AI) was even a real thing, science fiction novels and films have warned us about the potentially catastrophic dangers of giving machines too much power.

Now that AI actually exists, and in fact, is fairly widespread, it may be time to consider some of the potential drawbacks and dangers of the technology, before we find ourselves in a nightmarish dystopia the likes of which we’ve only begun to imagine.

Experts from the industry as well as academia have done exactly that, in a recently released 100-page report, “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, Mitigation.”

The report was written by 26 experts over the course of a two-day workshop held in the UK last month. The authors broke down the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence into three categories – physical, digital, or political.

In the digital category are listed all of the ways that hackers and other criminals can use these advancements to hack, phish, and steal information more quickly and easily. AI can be used to create fake emails and websites for stealing information, or to scan software for potential vulnerabilities much more quickly and efficiently than a human can. AI systems can even be developed specifically to fool other AI systems.

Physical uses included AI-enhanced weapons to automate military and/or terrorist attacks. Commercial drones can be fitted with artificial intelligence programs, and automated vehicles can be hacked for use as weapons. The report also warns of remote attacks, since AI weapons can be controlled from afar, and, most alarmingly, “robot swarms” – which are, horrifyingly, exactly what they sound like.

Read also: Is artificial intelligence going too far, moving too quickly?

Lastly, the report warned that artificial intelligence could be used by governments and other special interest entities to influence politics and generate propaganda.

AI systems are getting creepily good at generating faked images and videos – a skill that would make it all too easy to create propaganda from scratch. Furthermore, AI can be used to find the most important and vulnerable targets for such propaganda – a potential practice the report calls “personalized persuasion.” The technology can also be used to squash dissenting opinions by scanning the internet and removing them.

The overall message of the report is that developments in this technology are “dual use” — meaning that AI can be created that is either helpful to humans, or harmful, depending on the intentions of the people programming it.

That means that for every positive advancement in AI, there could be a villain developing a malicious use of the technology. Experts are already working on solutions, but they won’t know exactly what problems they’ll have to combat until those problems appear.

The report concludes that all of these evil-minded uses for these technologies could easily be achieved within the next five years. Buckle up.

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