Mayfly Insights 15/10/2018

Facebook releases its Portal, Google stops Google+ for consumers, YouTube cracks down on duplicates and Instagram uses AI to prevent bullying

Facebook and the Portal

Despite ongoing rumours about privacy breaches and data scandals, Facebook has recently released its new smart speaker. The first physical Facebook product, which acts as a video chat device is designed to take video chat communication to the next level. Looking like a tablet, it comes in a 10-inch 720p version for about $200 (known as Portal) and a 15.6-inch 1080p version for $350 (known as Portal+). The Portal has a smart camera and smart sound, which registers movement and follows the user around whilst they are moving within the room. However, while this new hands-free feature ensures that no word or image is missed, Facebook states that it is also possible to completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap, or by blocking the camera lens with the camera cover provided. It also assures the users that all contents of the Portal video calls are being kept private through added security measures, such as locally run AI technology on the Portal, rather than through Facebook’s servers or the similarity to other voice-enabled devices, like Amazon’s Alexa, where a voice command is the start of the transmission of data to the specific servers. With a list of partners, the Facebook Portal also expands into the tablet category, featuring Spotify and Alexa built-in voice controls, with rumours, that Netflix and YouTube will follow. 
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Google+ to shut down in August 2019

Google has taken steps to close down its social network Google+ for consumers, after a bug has exposed private data of approximately 500,000 accounts, enabling third-party app developers to not just access data of users who had granted permission, but also their connected friends. The data included names, emails, demographic information and other profile data. In times of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google had decided to not disclose the lack of user security straight away in order to avoid the “public relations headache and potential regulatory enforcement”. According to a statement from Google, there was no evidence found that the profile data was  misused and the thresholds for public disclosure were not met. As a further response to the security breaches, Google promises now to establish more user control over information in Google accounts granted to third parties. As a consumer social network, Google+ has never really reached a similar popularity such as Facebook or Instagram, and is currently registering low engagement and usage with 90% of the visits being less than 5 seconds, hence, the loss for consumers can’t be considered crucial, although it might fuel new discussions around social network data security. The network will, however, remain available for businesses.

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YouTube cracks down on duplicates in its YouTube Partner Programme

In order to ensure that the content posted on the video-streaming platform is valuable and original, YouTube has now started removing duplicate videos and the accompanying channels from its YouTube Partner Programme. The YouTube Partner Programme (YPP) allows creators to monetise their content on YouTube, and those channels which meet the specific criteria for eligibility can apply to be part of the YPP. If a channel has been removed from the programme, the owner can reapply after 30 days if they want to rejoin the YPP. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions for duplicate videos, outlined by YouTube if for example originality is given through adding a “significant original commentary, educational value, narrative or high quality editing”. Some best practices for being re-included in the YPP are adding a commentary to show presence in the video, linking from your website to the YouTube channel, providing enough context about the videos in the channel and video descriptions as well as making sure the content is aligned to YouTube’s policies.
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Instagram uses AI to prevent bullying

Online bullying is considered a complex issue and Instagram is now introducing new features to detect online bullying through artificial intelligence (AI). While it has been possible for users to report inappropriate comments and contents for a while, the new tool will detect bullying in photos, captions and live videos and sends them directly for a review to the Community Operations team. With this, Instagram is trying to protect the youngest users of the community from bullying or having a harmful experience. The feature is now available globally.Read more