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Tech workers are building the future. With that power comes a responsibility to build a future that is more free, just, and more prosperous than the present. Many tech workers are taking that responsibility seriously.

For example, since 2018, employees at GoogleFacebook, and Amazon have publicly protested their companies' behavior on ethical grounds.

It’s essential that we understand what’s at stake when it comes to who we work for and what we build. Below are five areas within technology that represent forks in the road. Each of them holds tremendous possibility. Some are helping to usher in a better future. But all of them have the potential to hasten dystopia. Here's a brief summary of each of these areas and why they matter.

 

Mass surveillance

In a nutshell: Private companies including social media sites and cellular phone service providers are collecting vast troves of detailed, real-time location and communication metadata and selling it to and sharing it with law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and the intelligence community without informing users.

What may be at stake: Surveillance by immigration enforcement is literally a matter of life and death. Law enforcement’s use of surveillance technology to identify and track protestors and journalists threatens First Amendment rights. Amazon Ring and other surveillance tools can present risks that police could escalate responses to protestors to the point at which violence can result.

Where to learn more: The Intercept and 20 Minutes into the Future are starting points for sources of surveillance reporting. Be sure to follow these five leaders on tethics (tech ethics); one listee, Eva Gaperin, updates an excellent Twitter feed that provides constant updates on surveillance. And be sure to check out our this post on the pros and cons of employee surveillance.

Be aware of deepfakes

In a nutshell: In April, State Farm debuted a widely discussed TV commercial that appeared to show an ESPN analyst making shockingly accurate predictions about the year 2020 in 1998. It was a deepfake - a disturbing trend that is occurring within media worldwide.

Deepfakes are media representations of people saying and doing things they didn’t actually say or do. To make a deepfake, someone records a photo, audio clip, or video of someone and then swaps out his or her likeness for another person's.

What may be at stake: Detecting deepfakes is one of the most important challenges ahead of us. Examples of deepfakes in include a video in which Belgium’s Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès links COVID-19 to climate change. In one particularly frightening example, rumors that a video of the president of a small African country was a deepfake helped instigate a failed coup. On the other hand, brands are using deepfakes for marketing and advertising to positive effect. Other positive uses include creating “voice skins” for gamers who want realistic-sounding voices that aren’t their own.

Where to learn more about these tech challenges: This synopsis by MIT and this CSO intro both do a good strong job covering how deepfakes are made and the risks they impose. The Brookings Institution offers a good summary of the potential political and social dangers of deepfakes. Further, this guide, in addition to additional work on Forbes, are good primers on how advanced deepfake technology is - along with its potential to become even more sophisticated. Finally, the videos embedded in this CNN analysis can help those interested in this challenge can get up to speed.

Stay vigilant on disinformation

In a nutshell: A play on the word “misinformation,” disinformation is a type of propaganda meant to mislead or misdirect a rival. For example, a 2019 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report confirmed that Russian-backed online disinformation campaigns exploited systemic racism to support Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election.

What may be at stake: When disinformation from Chinese and Russian-backed groups is distributed online, it can have real-world consequences. Between 2015 and 2017 Russian operatives posing as Americans successfully organized in-person rallies and demonstrations using Facebook. In one instance, Muslim civil rights activists counter-protested anti-Muslim Texas secessionists in Houston who waved Confederate flags and held “White Lives Matter” banners. Russian disinformation operatives organized both rallies. Experts predict more Russian-backed disinformation in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

Where to learn more: Dan Harvey’s “20 Minutes into the Future” is among the leading newsletters on this topic, and his most recent edition is a quick read on the recent developments in Russian disinformation. In it, he recommends this analysis of Internet Research Agency (IRA) campaigns put together by Oxford University. The Axios Codebook newsletter is also insightful, and its June edition on Russian disinformation disinformation is an especially compelling resource. For a thorough-but-readable long read, I recommend DiResta’s The Digital Maginot Line. For a more academic analysis, check out Stanford University’s Internet Observatory.

Be wary of addictive user experience

In a nutshell: Product managers, designers, tech marketers and start-up founders are all trying to build tools that users can’t put down. The benefits of addictive technology is obvious for the builders. But what is the long-term impact on users?

What may be at stake: Habit-forming tech products aren’t bad in and of themselves. But not all habits turn out to be healthy. Multiple studies have linked social media use with anxiety and depression, although the causal relationship isn’t clear. After the fintech company Robinhood made it free, easy, and fast to trade individual stocks, some users developed an unhealthy relationship with trading. One 20-year-old user committed suicide after seeing his $730,000 negative balance.

 

Arguably, no app is more addictive than TikTok. As a Chinese company, TikTok owner, ByteDance, is required to pass user data to the Chinese government. And going back to the disinformation section, TikTok has little incentive to resist pressure to display content that gives China an advantage over the US. In 2019 Senator Josh Hawley introduced ham-fisted legislation aimed at combating any addictive user experiences.

Where to learn more: This Scientific American piece is a good overview of the research on social media’s impact on mental health. The Margins newsletter is a good source of information on the pros and cons of technology and its Robinhood edition is a worthwhile read. Ben Thompson’s Stratechery newsletter is nuts-and-bolts, but delves into useful analysis of the ethical implications of technology.

Racist AI can reflect our own biases

In a nutshell: Artificial intelligence (AI) is only as good as the data it’s on which it’s based. Since humans still, by and large, exhibit racial biases it makes sense that the data we produce and use to train our AI is also going to contain racist ideas and language. The fact that Black and Latino Americans are severely underrepresented in positions of leadership at influential technology companies exacerbates the problem. Tech workers are only 3.1 percent are Black nationwide. Silicon Valley companies lag on diversity, as only 3 percent their total workforce is Black. Finally, only 1 percent of tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are Black.

What may be at stake: After Nextdoor moderators found themselves in hot water for deleting Black Lives Matter content, the company said it would use AI to identify racism on the platform. But racist algorithms are causing harm to Black Americans. Police departments are using facial recognition software they know misidentifies up to 97 percent of Black suspects, leading to false arrests.

The kind of modeling used in predictive policing is also inaccurate, according to researchers. And judges are using algorithms to assist with setting pre-trial bail that assign Black Americans a higher risk of recidivism based on their race. Amazon scrapped its internal recruitment AI once it came to light that it was biased against women. On the other hand, one study showed that a machine learning algorithm led to better hires and lower turnover while increasing diversity among Minneapolis schoolteachers.

Where to learn more: The Partnership on AI, a nonprofit coalition committed to the responsible use of AI, is a great resource to learn more about the challenges within this space. This discussion on algorithms and a November 2019 assessment on the pitfalls of AI are both good valuable as they are short, readable intros to on the topic. Race after Technology is a concise, readable, quotable tome on what author Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow.

 

[Source: This article was published in triplepundit.com By Matt Martin - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]

Categorized in Internet Ethics

Everywhere you look, it seems some company is either spying on their users or failing to protect their users' data. Protecting yourself might seem like a hopeless task, but these top privacy apps can really make a difference.

It's easy to feel that personal privacy is a dead issue. Once you go online, your every action is exposed, either through data lost in a breach or misuse by advertisers and online merchants. But don't give up hope. You don't have to go totally off-grid to retain or regain control of your privacy. Smart people around the world have come up with a variety of programs to attack the problem from different directions—creating apps that range from VPNs to email providers that don't spy on you or share your data. You may have to lay out a little cash, but the alternative is using free services that pay themselves by monetizing your private data.

The Email Nightmare, Part 1

Like the internet itself, email was invented by optimists and academics who never dreamed that anyone would misuse it. Read someone else's mail? How rude! Fill up inboxes with unwanted junk mail? They had no idea what was coming.

One type of privacy app aims to protect the content of your email conversations from snooping and tampering. Preveil, Private-Mail, ProtonMail, and StartMail let you lock down your communications using a technique called public-key cryptography. All but Preveil use a protocol called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) to generate a pair of keys, one public, one private. To send me a secure message, you encrypt it with my public key, and I decrypt it with my private key. Simple!  

Using Preveil is even simpler, though. A high-tech system involving what they call wrapped keys means you never deal with a key, public or private. It does also mean you can't connect with users of other PGP-based services, but few consumers know how to set that up.

This public key technology also lets me send you a message that's digitally signed, guaranteeing it came from me, with no tampering. I simply encrypt the message with my private key. The fact that you can decrypt it using my public key means it's totally legit. ProtonMail and StartMail automate the key exchange process with other users of the same service, while Private-Mail requires that you perform the exchange yourself. With any of these, you can exchange secure messages with anybody who provides a public key.

Of course, not everyone has embraced public key cryptography for their email. With StartMail and ProtonMail, you can send encrypted messages to non-users, though you don't get the same level of open-source security. The service encrypts the message using a simple password, and you transmit the password via some avenue other than email, perhaps a secure messaging app.

Virtru offers email encryption for free, but only if you use Gmail, and only in Chrome. Like Preveil, it handles key management internally, though it doesn't use public-key cryptography. You send an encrypted message and the recipient clicks a button to read it, without either of you entering a password.

The Email Nightmare, Part 2

With the contents of your email conversations encrypted, no hacker can sniff out just what you're saying. However, your email address itself is exposed any time you send a message, buy a product online, or sign up for any kind of internet-based service. That might not sound problematic, but your email address is typically your user ID for many sites. A hacker who finds your email and guesses your weak password now owns the account. And, of course, having your email address floating promiscuously around the web just invites spam.

But how can you communicate without giving a merchant or service your email? The solution lies in a simple technology called a Disposable Email Address, or DEA. The DEA service provides and manages these addresses, ensuring that mail sent to them lands in your inbox, and that your replies seem to come from the DEA. If you're done dealing with a particular merchant, or if one of your DEAs starts receiving spam, you just destroy it.

Burner Mail, Abine Blur, and ManyMe are among the services offering DEA management. ManyMe is unusual in a couple of ways. First, it's free, which is uncommon. Second, unlike most such services it doesn't make you register a new FlyBy email (as it calls them) before using it. Say someone at a cocktail party asks for your email. You can make up a FlyBy address on the spot, without giving your actual email away.

 

Abine Blur takes the concept of masking your actual identity online to the next level. Besides masking your email address, it offers masked credit card numbers, different for each transaction. You load the masked card with exactly the amount of the transaction, so a sleazy merchant can't overcharge you or use the card again. It even lets you chat on the phone without giving your actual number.

It's worth noting that Private-Mail and StartMail also offer a modicum of DEA management. StartMail lets you manage up to 10 permanent DEAs, and an unlimited number of DEAs set to expire within two weeks or less. Private-Mail offers five alternate email identities, without full DEA management.

Throw the Trackers Off the Scent

As they say, if you're not paying, then you are the product. You can surf the internet endlessly without paying a fee to visit specific sites, but those sites still work hard to monetize your visits. Advertising trackers plant cookies on your system, taking note when a tracker from an ad on a different website encounters that same cookie. Through this and other tracking methods, they form a profile of your online activity, a profile that others are willing to pay for.

Some years ago, the Internet's Powers That Be, recognizing that many users prefer not to be tracked, ginned up a simple Do Not Track message to be sent by the browser. This DNT system never became a standard, but all the top browsers adopted it anyway. It had no effect, because websites were and are free to ignore the header.

In place of the ineffectual DNT header, many security companies started devising active systems to identify and block ad trackers and other trackers. You'll find this feature as a bonus in many security suites and some privacy-specific products. Abine Blur, Ghostery Midnight, and ShieldApps Cyber Privacy Suite offer active DNT. Unlike most such implementations, Midnight deters tracker requests in any internet-aware application.

The trackers, in turn, invented a different technique for identifying individuals across different websites, relying on the ridiculous amount of information supplied to each site by your browser. This ranges from your IP address and browser version down to minutiae like the fonts installed on your system. There's so much information that trackers can create a fingerprint that's almost sure to identify you, and only you.

So, what can you do? Make a liar out of your browser, that's what. TrackOff mixes up the data sent from your browser so it's different for each website. Cyber Privacy Suite also scrambles your fingerprint. Important info still reaches the site, but not in a consistent way that could be fingerprinted. Steganos Privacy Suite once included a component to foil fingerprinting, but the latest edition has dropped that feature, along with its active Do Not Track component.

Using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, disguises your IP address but leaves plenty of data unchanged for the fingerprinters. Even so, keeping your internet traffic encrypted and having your IP address hidden are valuable ways to protect your privacy. In addition to their other privacy components, Ghostery Midnight and Cyber Privacy Suite include VPN protection.

Passwords Protect Privacy

Passwords are terrible, but we don't yet have a universal replacement. For security, you must use a different non-guessable strong password for every secure site. The only way anybody can accomplish that feat is by relying on a password manager. Unless you use a different strong password for every website, a data breach on one site could expose dozens of your other accounts.

In a perfect world, you already have an effective password manager in place, and you've taken the opportunity to fix any weak or duplicate passwords. On the chance you aren't already equipped, some privacy products have taken to including password management as a bonus feature. Abine Blur, for one, offers a complete, if basic, password manager. It even rates your passwords, giving extra credit for those logins that also use a masked email address.

You can get Steganos Password Manager as a separate program or as part of Steganos Privacy Suite. Either way, it's not a standout. You're probably better off with a top-notch free password manager. Cyber Privacy Suite seeks passwords stored insecurely in your browsers and moves them to encrypted storage, but doesn't do any password management beyond that protective step.

Icloak Stik is a tiny, bootable USB device that provides you with an entire private operating system; more about that below. Within that private OS, it offers the One Ring password manager built into the Tor Browser. That's important, because your existing password manager won't work in the Icloak environment.

Many Other Modes

Just as your private data can be exposed in many ways, software companies find a variety of ways to protect it. One unusual service comes from Abine DeleteMe. Rather than create disposable email addresses, this service attempts to clean up your existing email and other personal data. It searches dozens of websites that legally aggregate public information. Wherever it finds you, it sends an opt-out request to remove your data. This process can't be fully automated, so DeleteMe is relatively expensive.

Icloak Stik takes privacy to an extreme. You plug this tiny USB device into any PC, Mac, or Linux box and reboot. The Linux-based operating system that comes up resides entirely on the USB device. If you don't need to copy any files to the device, you can pocket it after booting up. And you can hide your IP address by going online with the Tor Browser. Once you shut down the host device, all traces of your session vanish.

 

If a malefactor steals your laptop or otherwise gains access to your PC, your private data could still be safe, provided you've encrypted it. We've covered numerous products solely devoted to encrypting files, folders, or whole drives. Some privacy products broaden their protection by including encryption. Steganos Privacy Suite, for example, includes the Steganos Safe encryption tool, also available as a standalone product.

Private-Mail goes beyond the usual features of encrypted email by giving you an online area to store encrypted files. You can encrypt files using PGP or using a simple password, and you can even share your encrypted files with others.

With Preveil, storing essential files in your encrypted cloud is a snap. You just treat that cloud like any other folder. Sharing with other Preveil users is also easy. 

Virtru doesn't offer cloud storage, but it gives you unusual control over your messages and attachments. You can set messages to expire, disable secure forwarding, and add a watermark to some kinds of attachments. You can also convert attachments into a protected form that only the recipient can view, just like a Virtru message.

Protect the Protectors

When you set up an encrypted email system or a disposable email address manager, your account password is a potential weakness. If you use an easily-guessed password, or if a stranger shoulder-surfs your login, you could lose control of your privacy protection. That's where two-factor authentication comes in.

The concept is simple. With two-factor authentication, logging requires at least two of the following: something you know (such as a password); something you have (such as an authentication app); or something you are (such as a fingerprint). Quite a few of the privacy tools examined here offer a two-factor option, specifically Abine Blur, Burner Mail, Private-Mail, StartMail, and Steganos Privacy Suite.

All these products rely on Google Authenticator or another Time-based One-Time Password generator. To get started, you use your authenticator mobile app to snap a QR code provided by the privacy program. Enter the code generated by the app and you're done. Now, your password alone doesn't grant access to the privacy program. A password thief won't be able to enter the code from your authenticator app, and hence won't get in.

Preveil also provides a degree of two-factor authentication by the very nature of its encryption. Connecting to your encrypted mail is easy and automatic provided that you have access both to the email account and to a trusted device. An evildoer who cracks your email account still won't gain access to your encrypted mail and files. And if you lose a trusted device, you can cancel your trust.

As for Virtru, it doesn't require a password and doesn't offer two-factor authentication. You prove your identity by logging into your Gmail account. That being the case, you'd do well to protect that Gmail account using two-factor authentication.

These aren't the only programs for protecting your privacy, and this isn't an exhaustive list of privacy-cloaking techniques. However, all these programs do their best to keep you safe from advertisers, spies, and creeps online.

Abine Blur

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Your subscription to Abine Blur Premium brings a veritable smorgasbord of privacy-enhancing features and services. Its masked emails feature automates the process of using a different disposable email address for every transaction. If one of those masked emails starts getting spam, you can just delete it, and you know which merchant sold you out.

What's the use in masking your email when you're giving the merchant something even more sensitive—your credit card number? Blur masks card numbers, too, and each masked card only has enough value to pay the particular transaction. No shady merchant can charge you extra, or fake another transaction on your card.

You can have all the masked emails you want, but masked cards require a small payment, because Abine expends resources processing the payment. Masked phone numbers are still more limited; you get just one. But when you use that masked phone number, you can be sure your contact won't benefit by selling it to robocallers or text spammers.

 

It's a small step from tracking your disposable email addresses to tracking your logins for all those websites. Blur includes a complete, if basic, password manager. Most password managers praise you for using a different password at each website; Blur gives you extra credit if you also use a masked email address for each.

Blur securely syncs your password and payment data across all your PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. Its browser extensions offer full access to program features and include an active Do Not Track component that foils advertisers and other trackers. On top of all that, Blur spells out how it handles your data in clear, simple detail. It's a cornucopia of privacy protection.

Abine Blur Premium Review

PreVeil

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Preveil lets you exchange encrypted email without having to switch to a special, new email account. You just keep using your existing email with Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail, or the Mail apps built into Android and iOS. Using it with another email client requires a little work, but it's possible. You don't have to memorize or exchange passwords. The combination of access to your email account and use of a trusted device authenticates you.

With almost any encryption system, losing your master key or password means you lose access to your files. Some even make you accept a disclaimer to that effect. Preveil offers an unusual system from the deep reaches of crypto technology. Called Shamir's Secret Sharing, it lets you set up a pool of fellow Preveil users who can help you regain a lost key. They don't get any access to your key, but several of them working together can rebuild it for you.

Preveil brings top-tier enterprise-grade encryption technology to the consumer, yet presents it in a user-friendly way. This free solution is our Editors' Choice for email encryption.

PreVeil Review

ProtonMail

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You use ProtonMail the same way you'd use any web-based email service. The difference is that email conversations with other ProtonMail users are automatically protected using public key encryption. The same is true for any correspondent whose public key you've imported. You can also send encrypted mail to outsiders using a simpler form of encryption.

 

If you don't need more than 150 messages per day and 500MB of storage for email, you can use ProtonMail for free. Even a paid subscription isn't expensive, at $5 per month or $48 per year. The paid edition gets you 1,000 messages per day, along with the ability to create up to four protected email addresses, full tech support, and 5GB of email storage. This is a simple, solid email encryption solution.

ProtonMail Review

TrackOFF Basic

TrackOFF Basic

Advertisers really care what you do online. The better they can profile you, the more they can target ads. A nice juicy personal profile is also a commodity they can sell. With the proliferation of active Do Not Track systems, some trackers have switched to a technique called browser fingerprinting. And TrackOFF Basic stands square in their way, ensuring that your browser does its job without painting a target on your back.

Every time you visit a website, your browser sends a ton of information. It has to send your IP address, to receive the requested pages. But it also sends the browser version, OS details, even the fonts installed on your PC. Nominally, this information helps the website fine-tune your browsing experience. But there's so much data spewing from the browser that trackers can easily create a unique fingerprint, and thereby recognize you when you visit a different site.

TrackOFF doesn't suppress the info coming from your browser, as that could cause problems with some sites. It just mixes things up a little, presenting a slightly different fingerprint to each website. It does cost $34.95 per year, but that's fine for some tracking-sensitive souls.

TrackOFF Basic Review

Virtru Email Protection for Gmail

Virtru

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Like Preveil, Virtru is a consumer product that takes advantage of technology developed for the corporate world. Also like Preveil, it's free, and doesn't require that you change your email address. However, it only works with Gmail accounts, and only if you access them using Chrome.

Corporations can set up in-house handling of encryption keys. With the consumer edition, Virtru takes on that role. You never enter a password or share a key. By logging in to your Gmail account, you get full access to your encrypted email. If that seems unsafe in any way, consider enabling two-factor authentication for Gmail itself.

 

Virtru offers unusual control over your encrypted email messages. You can set them to expire after a fixed time, and change that time (or revoke access) even after sending the message. You can control the recipient's ability to forward secure messages. And you can watermark certain attachment types, to prove they came from you.

Yes, only those who access their Gmail on Chrome can make use of this tool. But the pools of Gmail users and of Chrome users are large enough to guaranteed quite a few potential users.

Virtru Email Protection for Gmail Review

Abine DeleteMe

129.00 20% Discount on any DeleteMe subscription with code PCMAG at DeleteMe
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Some DEA services require you to create a new, pristine email account to receive the mail from your disposable addresses, while others feed directly into your existing inbox. The latter approach is more convenient, but it comes with a problem. Your email address, along with other personal information, is already scattered across the interwebs. Completely wiping that information from the web is impossible, but Abine DeleteMe does everything that is possible to minimize your exposure.

DeleteMe scans websites for dozens of information aggregating websites. These sites legally collect public information and make it easy to find. They also legally must remove your info if you so request. DeleteMe automates the opt-out process as much as possible. However, automation isn't possible in some cases, so Abine retains a staff of human operators to handle those. Every six months, you get a report of what DeleteMe found, and what was removed.

Unlike automated opt-out algorithms, those human operators must be paid. That's why DeleteMe costs more than most privacy services, $129 per year. You can often find discounts, or deals to add a family member.

Read More...

[Source: This article was published in pcmag.com By Neil J. Rubenking - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Bing is rolling out several updates to improve key search features including autosuggest, people also ask, and intelligent answers.

Bing is improving several key search features with updates designed to provide users with a wider range of results.

Now, when users search using Bing, they can expect to see:

  • Better autosuggest predictions
  • More ‘people also ask’ recommendations
  • Intelligent answers in more regions
  • Semantic highlighting in search snippets

Each of these updates are made possible due to advancements Microsoft has made in the areas of Natural Language Representation and Natural Language Generation.

Here’s how these updates will enhance the Bing search experience going forward.

 

Better Autosuggest Predictions

A new technology called Next Phrase Prediction is being integrated into Bing’s autosuggest feature.

 

What that means for users is Bing can now provide full phrase suggestions in real time for long queries.

Previously, Bing’s approach to handling autosuggestions for longer queries was limited to completing the current word being typed by the user.

Now, Bing can generate phrase suggestions for long queries before a user starts typing the next word.

Here are some examples of suggestions that Bing wouldn’t have been able to show previously.

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In addition, since phrase suggestions are being generated in real-time, autosuggest results are no longer limited to previously entered queries.

As a result of this update, coverage of autosuggest completions increases considerably, which improves the overall search experience.

More Questions in ‘People Also Ask’

Bing can now generate question-answer pairs in the People Also Ask (PAA) block for queries that haven’t been entered before.

“We use a high-quality generative model on billions of documents to generate question-answer pairs that are present within those documents.

Later, when the same documents appear on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), we use the previously generated question-answer pairs to help populate the PAA block, in addition to existing similar questions that have previously been asked.”

This update allows for greater exploration of search results by asking more questions instead of just browsing documents.

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Expanding Intelligent Answers

Bing is expanding intelligent answers to 100 languages and 200+ regions, which covers almost every area Bing is available in.

Previously, Bing’s intelligent answers were only available in 13 markets.

Bing’s intelligent answers are similar Google’s quick answers. The key difference is Bing’s intelligent answers are only displayed when the same answer is backed up by multiple trusted sources.

Google’s quick answers, on the other hand, are pulled from a single source.

Semantic Highlighting in Search Snippets

Bing is improving search snippets in all markets with a feature called semantic highlighting.

This feature allows Bing to highlight words in snippets beyond simple keyword matching.

 

Semantic highlighting is designed to help users find information faster without having to read through the entire snippet.

Previously, Bing’s ability to highlight snippets was limited to matching the exact keywords a user typed in the query.

“Highlighting the answer in a caption is similar to Stanford’s Machine Reading Comprehension test in which Microsoft was the first to reach human parity on the benchmark.

With Universal Semantic Highlighting, we can identify and highlight answers within captions, and do it not just for English but for all languages.”

Here is an example for the query “what temperature is a fever for coronavirus.”

ac.png

Notice how Bing doesn’t highlight the words used in the query.

Rather, Bing highlights the answer the user is looking for (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Expect updates similar to these in the future as Microsoft continues to make advancements in natural language processing.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Matt Southern - Uploaded by the Association Member: Daniel K. Henry]

Categorized in Search Engine

The variables that drive performance for LSA extend beyond the prominence, relevance and proximity factors we have built strategies for.

We are in the midst of a transformation in local advertising. Google has a new form of trusted answers that are revealed through a unique and compelling sponsored ad unit. The advertisers that participate in this new layer of trust are proudly displayed next to a green, check-mark badge. This designation is quickly becoming the symbol of trust for Google users. 

Google is so confident in the consumer value of these answers that they put them atop their precious search result pages. When speaking to local businesses, Google states that they can “earn customers trust with the badge.” It tells them that the badge will give its users, “more confidence to book your services.”

 

It is increasingly important for local business owners who are eligible, to obtain the Google badge of trust. But the real value of the badge is the access it provides to Local Services Ads (LSA). This is Google’s local trust pack. It is a cost-per-call advertising inventory unit that acts unlike anything we have ever encountered as marketers.

Badges are earned within two distinct programs – Google Guaranteed and Google Screened. The more mature Google Guaranteed, now covers most Home Service categories, including appliance repair, carpenter, carpet cleaner, electrician, house cleaning, interior designer, landscaper, lawn care provider, mover, pest control technician, pet care provider, pet groomer,  plumber, roofer, tree service provider, water damage, window cleaner, window service provider and flooring, foundations, countertop, HVAC, and siding pros. The green check-mark for Google  Guaranteed providers signifies that Google has verified the business and backs the services booked.

This year, Google solidified the growth intentions behind its newly minted trust layer, with the launch of Google Screened for Professional Services providers. This program is for lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents, photographers, event planners, and tax specialists.The Google Screened badge means that it has verified the providers’ background and backs their expertise.

Over a series of articles, I will address the Google Guaranteed and Screened programs and explore the specifics of each. We will learn what it means to optimize LSA and take advantage of the badge. Here we look at the past and present conditions that underscore Google’s revolutionary new trust layer. 

Part 1: The Past

To truly understand the local trust pack, it is important to start with Google My Business (GMB). Launched in 2014, GMB is the quintessential free marketing tool for local businesses. It enables them to manage their business presence across Google. It was positioned as the ‘businesses’ best friend and the place to keep business content fresh, post deals, share high-quality photos and videos and respond to customers. 

But, as Google knows all too well, leadership begets scrutiny and spam and in January 2016, the Google Local team found itself having to respond publicly to a NY Times Article entitled “Fake Online Locksmiths May Be Out to Pick Your Pocket, Too.” The article directly implicated Google Local results and the ease of how unsavory people game them to commit fraud. 

The public may have been talking about locksmiths now, but what about all the other “pros” that Google was sending into peoples’ homes? By 2016, Google was being held to account for the safety of its users’ post-search, in their own homes.

 

 

It is no coincidence that months prior to the Times article, Google announced that it was testing Home Service Ads in beta in the San Francisco area for, you guessed it… locksmiths, but also plumbers, cleaners, and handymen. 

Trust would be built on the back of what was called Advanced Verification standards that Google states:

 “In order to prevent fraudulent businesses from advertising on Google using false identities, Google Ads and Local Services advertisers in certain verticals will be required to complete Advanced Verification.” 

By this time, post-transactional activity was very fertile ground for Google. Its reviews and ratings features have historically relied on its consumers to qualify their experiences with local businesses. In fact, these post-transactional signals have become a foundation of local search ranking. 

Now, consumer reviews were no longer enough. The meaning of trust for Google’s local results was expanded to encapsulate the security and well-being of its searchers through the transactional environment itself. As the story unfolds, we begin to see that Google’s move to instill new signals of trust into its result sets, requires a momentous effort and an entirely different set of rules. 

Part 2: The Present

To qualify for the coveted Google Guaranteed or Screened badge, the service pros undergo personal background checks and provide corporate documentation, proof of insurance, certifications, licenses and other credentials, depending upon industry. This process can take weeks, even months, as Google depends upon third-parties throughout the application process. 

If this vetting process sounds familiar, then you are probably familiar with mature vertical search providers, like Home Advisor or even Thumbtack (a Google Ventures investment). The badge is so trust-oriented that if a consumer is unsatisfied with a service pro’s work, Google may refund the amount paid for the service – the “Guaranteed.” They cap lifetime coverage for claims at $2,000 USD.

It is exciting for a business owner to obtain the Google badge of trust. But it’s the access to LSA that gets the phone ringing. Most local search marketers unknowingly stand on the cusp of what will be their biggest challenge to date in working with Local Services Ads. These ads look and act differently than other search-based products or strategies. On the surface, the inventory is unpredictable and temperamental. Below the surface it is formulaic and strict.

The LSA algorithm, which drives the cost-per-call market, has significant advertiser dependencies. A click on the ad unit itself resolves to a new type of Google landing page called the LSA profile. The rules governing the trust layer display are predicated on a very shallow “job category” to “job type” to a keyword-based ontology. The LSA algorithm is rooted in GMB and local rank principles. But, what makes LSA so unique is its use of methods such as hours of operations, answer rate, conversation quality, booked transactions, archived calls, customer reviews, and other advertiser feedback loops to calculate ad serving rules. Google may represent its trustworthiness for a business by a badge, but it represents trust for an advertiser through ad serving. 

For five years, Local Services Ads have been slowly, but consistently launching atop Google search results for local queries in key home services categories. The pace of the roll-out is now speeding up as the once obscure and mysterious program is coming out of the dark and into the light for users and advertisers alike. In 2020, as Guaranteed results became much more prevalent across home pro queries, Google made profound news by quietly announcing Google Screened for Professional Services categories.

The reality is that despite all the potential, many local businesses simply won’t qualify for the Guaranteed or Screened programs. Even if they do, many do not have the basic faculty to interact with the advanced functioning of the call-based advertising inventory. In the months and years ahead, many marketers and advertisers will grow very frustrated, give up, wait and watch. 

This is not a test. That started for Google in 2015. A monetized trust layer, unlike anything we have seen in local advertising, has form and function on Google search results. The variables that drive the performance for LSA extend well beyond the prominence, relevance, and proximity factors that we as local marketers have built strategies and careers around.  A new era has arrived in local search. 

In the articles to follow, we will unpack Google Guaranteed and Screened, including the approval processes, the LSA algorithm, the cost-per-call pricing model, and the LSA/GMB Profiles. 

 

Stay tuned…

[Source: This article was published in searchengineland.com By Justin Sanger - Uploaded by the Association Member: Carol R. Venuti] 

Categorized in Search Engine

Popular search engines and browsers do a great job at finding and browsing content on the web, but can do a better job at protecting your privacy while doing so.

With your data being the digital currency of our times, websites, advertisers, browsers, and search engines track your behavior on the web to deliver tailored advertising, improve their algorithms, or improve their services.

In this guide, we list the best search engines and browsers to protect your privacy while using the web.

Privacy-focused search engines

Below are the best privacy-focused search engines that do not track your searchers or display advertisements based on your cookies or interests.

 

DuckDuckGo

The first privacy-focused search engine, and probably the most recognizable, we spotlight is DuckDuckGo.

Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is popular among users who are concerned about privacy online, and the privacy-friendly search engine recently said it had seen 2 billion total searches.

DDG

With DuckDuckGo, you can search for your questions and websites online anonymously.

DuckDuckGo does not compile entire profiles of user's search habits and behavior, and it also does not collect personal information.

DuckDuckGo is offered as a search engine option in all popular browsers.

In 2017, Brave added DuckDuckGo as a default search engine option when you use the browser on mobile or desktop. In Brave browser, your search results are powered by DuckDuckGo when you enter the private tabs (incognito).

Last year, Google also added DuckDuckGo to their list of search engines on Android and platforms. With iOS 14, Apple is now also allowing users to use DuckDuckGo as their preferred search engine.

Startpage

Unlike DuckDuckGo, Startpage is not crawling the internet to generate unique results, but instead, it allows users to obtain Google Search results while protecting their data.

Startpage started as a sister company of Ixquick, which was founded in 1998. In 2016, both websites were merged and Startpage owners received a significant investment from Privacy One Group last year.

This search engine also generates its income from advertising, but these ads are anonymously generated solely based on the search term you entered. Your information is not stored online or shared with other companies, such as Google.

StartPage

Startpage also comes with one interesting feature called "Annonymous View" that allows you to view links anonymously.

When you use this feature, Startpage renders the website in its container and the website won't be able to track you because it will see Startpage as the visitor.

Ecosia

The next search engine in our list is Ecosia.

Unlike any other search engines, Ecosia is a CO2-neutral search engine and it uses the revenue generated to plant trees. Ecosia's search results are provided by Bing and enhanced by the company's own algorithms.

Ecosia

Ecosia was first launched on 7 December 2009 and the company has donated most of its profits to plant trees across the world.

Ecosia says they're a privacy-friendly search engine and your searches are encrypted, which means the data is not stored permanently and sold to third-party advertisers.

List of privacy-friendly browsers:

Web browser developers have taken existing browser platforms such as Chrome and Firefox, and modified them to include more privacy-focuses features that protect your data while browsing the web.

 

Brave Browser

Brave is one of the fastest browser that is solely focused on privacy with features like private browsing, data saver, ad-free experience, bookmarks sync, tracking protections, HTTPs everywhere, and more.

Brave

Memory usage by Brave is far below Google Chrome and the browser is also available for both mobile and desktop.

You can download Brave from here.

Tor Browser

The Tor Browser is another browser that aims to protect your data, including your IP address, as you browse the web.

When browsing the web with Tor, your connections to web sites will be anonymous as your request will be routed through other computers and your real IP address is not shared. 

In addition, Tor bundles comes with the NoScript and HTTPS Everywhere extensions preinstalled, and clears your HTTP cookies on exit, to further protect your privacy.

Tor

firefox focus

Firefox Focus also comes with built-in ad blocker to improve your experience and block all trackers, including those operated by Google and Facebook.

You can download Tor browser from here.

Firefox Focus

Firefox Focus is also a great option if you use Android or iOS.

 

According to Mozilla, Firefox Focus blocks a wide range of online trackers, erases your history, passwords, cookies, and comes with a user-friendly interface.

 [Source: This article was published in bleepingcomputer.com By Mayank Parmar - Uploaded by the Association Member: Logan Hochstetler]

Categorized in Search Engine

Ever Google search for your own name? Even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance that a friend, family member or potential employer will at some point. And when they do, do you know everything that they’ll find?

Google is chock full of personal information you may not always want public. Whether it’s gathered by the search engine itself or scummy people-search websites, you have a right to know what kind of data other people can access when they look up your name. Tap or click here to see how to remove yourself from people search sites.

 

What others see about you online can mean the difference in landing a job or spending more time looking for one. If you want to take control of your reputation online, here’s why you need to start searching for yourself before others beat you to it.

Use exact phrases to find more than mentions

To get started with searching yourself on Google, it’s important to know how to search for exact phrases. This means telling Google you want to look up the words you typed exactly as you typed them — with no splitting terms or looking up one word while ignoring others.

To do this, simply search for your name (or any term) in quotation marks. As an example, look up “Kim Komando” and include quotation marks. Now, Google won’t show results for Kim Kardashian along with Komando.com.

Using exact phrases will weed out results for other people with similar names to yours. If you have a more common name, you may have to go through several pages before finding yourself.

If you aren’t finding anything or your name is very common, use your name plus modifiers like the city or state you live in, the names of your school(s), the name of the company you work for or other details. Make note of anything that you don’t feel comfortable with others finding and either write down the web addresses or bookmark them.

A picture says a thousand words

After you’ve saved the websites you want to go over, switch over to Google’s Image Search and scan through any pictures of you. It’s much easier to look through hundreds of images quickly versus hundreds of links, and you might be surprised at the images and websites you find.

If you find an image that concerns you, you can run a reverse image search to see where it’s hosted. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Image Search and click the Camera icon in the search bar
  • Paste a link to the image or upload the image you want to search for.
  • Your results will be shown as a combination of images and relevant websites. If an exact match is found, it will populate at the top of your results.

If the image has no text on it or any identifying information, don’t worry. Your image can turn up even if it only has your face.

Where you are and where you’ve been

Next, you’ll want to run a search for your past and current email addresses and phone numbers. This helps you see which sites have access to this personal data and will also show you what others can find if they look this information up.

 

If you’ve ever signed up for a discussion board or forum with your personal email address, your post history could easily show up if someone Googles you. The same can be said for social media pages and blogs. Find and make note of any posts or content that you’d prefer to make private.

Finally, run a search for your social media account usernames. Try to remember any usernames you may have used online and look those up. For example, if you search for the username “kimkomando,” you’ll turn up Kim’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts.

If you can’t remember, try searching for your name (as an exact phrase in quotation marks) plus the social network you want to look up. This might reveal accounts that you forgot about or that are less private than you think. If your real name is visible anywhere, it probably falls into this category.

Keep track going forward

If you want to stay on top of information that pops up about you on social media (or the rest of the web), you can set up a free Google Alert for your name. It’s an easy way to keep tabs on your online reputation.

Here’s how to set up a Google Alert for your name:

  • Visit Google.com/alerts and type what you want Google to alert you about in the search bar.
  • Click Show options to change settings for frequency, sources, language and region. You can also specify how many results you want and where you want them delivered.
  • Click Create Alert to start receiving alerts on yourself or other search topics you’re interested in.

Bonus: What does Google know about me?

And last but not least, let’s take a moment to address data that Google itself keeps on you. By default, Google records every search you enter, your location (if you use Google Maps), video-watching history and searches from YouTube, and much more.

Anyone who knows your Google Account email and digs deep enough can learn plenty about your online activities. If you haven’t visited your Google Account and privacy settings in a while, now’s the time to do it.

Now that you’ve searched for yourself and taken note of content that people can see if they look you up, it’s time to take things a step further and actually remove any data that you don’t want public. Want to know how? Just follow along for part two of our guide to Google-searching yourself.

[Source: This article was published in komando.com By KOMANDO STAFF - Uploaded by the Association Member: David J. Redcliff]

Categorized in Search Engine

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine, announced that August 2020 ended in over 2 billion total searches via its search platform.

While Google remains the most popular search engine, DuckDuckGo has gained a great deal of traction in recent months as more and more users have begun to value their privacy on the internet.

DuckDuckGo saw over 2 billion searches and 4 million app/extension installations, and the company also said that they have over 65 million active users. DuckDuckGo could shatter its old traffic record if the same growth trend continues.

 

Screenshot 5

Even though DuckDuckGo is growing rapidly, it still controls less than 2 percent of all search volume in the United States. However, DuckDuckGo's growth trend has continued throughout the year, mainly due to Google and other companies' privacy scandal.

DuckDuckGo1.jpg

On average, DuckDuckGo is getting 65 million+ searches regularly. The number is likely to be more if we add up the searches performed via DuckDuckGo's API, extensions, or apps.

DuckDuckGo search engine is based on Bing, community-developed sites such as Wikipedia, and the company has developed its own crawler to generate its index of search results.

Unlike Google, DuckDuckGo is more privacy-oriented, and they don't track what users are searching for. As a result, DuckDuckGo search results are not as up-to-date as Google or even Bing.

On the other hand, Google has championed web standards, and its search engine allegedly ignores privacy standards and tracks people across its platforms.

If you are serious about privacy, you can give DuckDuckGo a try by visiting their search homepage. You can also use DuckDuckGo by installing its extensions and apps.

[Source: This article was published in bleepingcomputer.com By Mayank Parmar - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Categorized in Search Engine

Learn key insights that will help you understand how the algorithms of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook work.

Here’s an old question that gets asked every year:

How do social media algorithms work?

But, you can often uncover strategic insights by looking at an old question like this one from a different perspective.

In fact, there’s a term for this effect.

It’s called the “parallax” view.

parallax-view.png

For example, marketers often look for influencers on the social media platforms with the greatest reach.

But, influencers evaluate these same platforms based on their opportunity to grow their audience and make more money.

 

This explains why The State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report found that the top five social media platforms for influencer marketing are:

  • Instagram (82%).
  • YouTube (41%).
  • TikTok (23%).
  • Twitter (23%).
  • Facebook (5%).

This list made me wonder why marketers focus on the reach of their campaign’s outputs, but influencers are focused on the growth of their program’s outcomes.

Influencers want to learn how the Instagram and YouTube algorithms work, because they want their videos discovered by more people.

And influencers are interested in learning how the TikTok and Twitter algorithms work, because they are thinking about creating content for those platforms.

Facebook’s algorithm, however, doesn’t seem quite as important to today’s influencers – unless Facebook represents a significant opportunity for them to make more money.

There are a lot of strategic insights that marketers can glean from looking at how social media algorithms work from an influencer’s point of view.

How the Instagram Algorithm Works

Back in 2016, Instagram stopped using a reverse-chronological feed.

Since then, the posts in each user’s feed on the platform has been ordered according to the Instagram algorithm’s ranking signals.

According to the Instagram Help Center:

“Instagram’s technology uses different ways, or signals, to determine the order of posts in your feed. These signals are used to help determine how your feed is ordered, and may include:

  • “Likelihood you’ll be interested in the content.
  • “Date the post was shared.
  • “Previous interactions with the person posting.”

This has a profound impact on influencers – as well as the marketers who are trying to identify the right influencers, find the right engagement tactics, and measure the performance of their programs.

Relevance

The first key signal is relevance, not reach.

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Why?

Because Instagram users are more likely to be interested in an influencer’s content if it is relevant – if it’s about what interests them.

In other words, if you’re interested in football (a.k.a., soccer), then the likelihood that you’ll be interested in content by Nabaa Al Dabbagh, aka “I Speak Football Only,” is high.

But, far too many marketers are looking for celebrities and mega-influencers who have lots of Instagram followers (a.k.a., reach), instead of looking for macro-, mid-tier, micro-, or nano-influencers who are creating relevant content that their target audience is more likely to find interesting.

i-speak-football-only.png

Recency

The second key signal is recency, or how recently a post has been shared.

This gives an advantage to influencers like Marwan Parham Al Awadhi, a.k.a., “DJ Bliss,” who post frequently.

dj-bliss.png

Unfortunately, far too many marketers are engaging influencers to create a single post during a campaign instead of building a long-term relationship with brand advocates who will generate a series of posts that recommend their brand on an ongoing basis.

Resonance

The third key signal is resonance.

In other words, how engaging are an influencer’s posts?

Do they prompt interactions such as comments, likes, reshares, and views with the influencer’s audience?

And, unfortunately, way too many marketers assume that an influencer’s post that mentions their brand has increased their brand awareness, using bogus metrics like Earned Media Value (EMV).

If they’d read, Why International Search Marketers Should Care About Brand Measurement, then they’d realize there are a variety of legitimate ways to measure the impact of an influencer marketing campaign on:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Brand frequency.
  • Brand familiarity.
  • Brand favorability.
  • Brand emotions.
  • Purchase consideration.
  • Brand preference.
  • Brand demand.

Using this parallax view, it’s easy to see that too many marketers mistakenly think influencer marketing is just like display advertising.

They’re buying posts from influencers the same way they would buy ads from publishers.

So, marketers who only look at an influencer’s reach shouldn’t be shocked, shocked to discover that some influencers are using bad practices such as fake followers, bots, and fraud to inflate their numbers.

If you use a one-dimensional view of an influencer’s influence, then you reap what you sow.

How Does the YouTube Algorithm Work?

Now, I’ve already written several articles on how the YouTube algorithm works, including:

But, these articles were written for marketers, not influencers.

So, what can we learn from looking at YouTube’s algorithm from an influencer’s point of view?

Well, according to YouTube Help:

“The goals of YouTube’s search and discovery system are twofold: to help viewers find the videos they want to watch, and to maximize long-term viewer engagement and satisfaction.”

So, YouTube influencers need to start by creating great content on discoverable topics.

Why?

Well, YouTube is one of the most-used search engines in the world.

People visit the site looking for videos about all sorts of subjects.

These viewers may not necessarily be looking for a specific influencer’s video, but they’ll discover it if it ranks well in YouTube search results or suggested videos.

Learn how to use Google Trends to find out what your audiences is looking for on YouTube.

The default results in Google Trends show “web search” interest in a search term or a topic.

But, if you click on the “web search” tab, the drop-down menu will show you that one of your other options is “YouTube search” interest.

YouTube influencers can then use what they see to inform their content strategies.

For example, you might learn that there was 31% more YouTube search interest worldwide in the topic, beauty, than in the topic, fashion.

fashion-vs-beauty.png

Or you might discover that there was 18 times more YouTube search interest worldwide in the sport, drifting, than in the sport, motorsport.

motorsport-vs-drifting.png

YouTube’s algorithm can’t watch your videos, so you need to optimize your metadata, including your titles, tags, and descriptions.

Unfortunately, most marketers don’t use this approach to find the search terms and topics on YouTube that are relevant for their brand and then identify the influencers who are creating content that ranks well for these keywords and phrases.

Now, getting your YouTube video content discovered is only half the battle.

 

Influencers also need to build long watch-time sessions for their content by organizing and featuring content on their channel, including using series playlists.

As YouTube Help explains:

“A series playlist allows you to mark your playlist as an official set of videos that should be viewed together. Adding videos to a series playlist allows other videos in the playlist to be featured and recommended when someone is viewing a video in the series. YouTube may use this info to modify how the videos are presented or discovered.”

Fortunately, one of the guest speakers for NMA’s program was Mark Wiens, one of the most famous food vloggers in the world.

His YouTube channel has more than 1.4 billion views and almost 6.7 million subscribers.

Here are examples of the playlists that he had created, including Thai food and travel guides.

mark wien

Now, marketers could also look over the playlists on the YouTube channels of influencers when they’re evaluating which ones are “right” for a campaign.

However, I strongly suspect that this only happens once in a blue moon.

 

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

The TikTok Newsroom posted How TikTok recommends videos #ForYou just before I was scheduled to talk about this topic.

Hey, sometimes you get lucky.

tiktok.png

Here’s what I learned:

“When you open TikTok and land in your For You feed, you’re presented with a stream of videos curated to your interests, making it easy to find content and creators you love. This feed is powered by a recommendation system that delivers content to each user that is likely to be of interest to that particular user.”

 

 

So, how does this platform’s recommendation system work?

According to TikTok:

“Recommendations are based on a number of factors, including things like:

  • “User interactions such as the videos you like or share, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create.
  • “Video information, which might include details like captions, sounds, and hashtags.
  • “Device and account settings like your language preference, country setting, and device type. These factors are included to make sure the system is optimized for performance, but they receive lower weight in the recommendation system relative to other data points we measure since users don’t actively express these as preferences.”

The TikTok Newsroom adds:

“All these factors are processed by our recommendation system and weighted based on their value to a user. A strong indicator of interest, such as whether a user finishes watching a longer video from beginning to end, would receive greater weight than a weak indicator, such as whether the video’s viewer and creator are both in the same country. Videos are then ranked to determine the likelihood of a user’s interest in a piece of content, and delivered to each unique For You feed.”

TikTok cautions:

“While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.”

It’s worth noting that Oracle has won the bid to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations after ByteDance rejected a bid by Walmart and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, YouTube released YouTube Shorts, a TikTok-like feature, while Facebook recently launched Instagram Reels, which is basically a TikTok knock-off.

So, it appears that some very big players are convinced that TikTok represents a significant opportunity to make more money, or a competitive threat to the growth of their own social media platforms.

I wish that I could add more, but I’m a stranger here myself.

How Does Twitter’s Algorithm Work?

When Twitter was launched back in 2006, it had a simple timeline structure and tweets were displayed in reverse chronological order from the people you followed.

 

 

But, like other social media, Twitter started using an algorithm to show users posts that different factors indicate they’ll like.

The biggest recent change to Twitter’s algorithm took place in 2017.

According to a Twitter blog post by Nicolas Koumchatzky and Anton Andryeyev:

“Right after gathering all Tweets, each is scored by a relevance model. The model’s score predicts how interesting and engaging a Tweet would be specifically to you. A set of highest-scoring Tweets is then shown at the top of your timeline, with the remainder shown directly below.”

Their post added:

“Depending on the number of candidate Tweets we have available for you and the amount of time since your last visit, we may choose to also show you a dedicated “In case you missed it” module. This modules meant to contain only a small handful of the very most relevant Tweets ordered by their relevance score, whereas the ranked timeline contains relevant Tweets ordered by time. The intent is to let you see the best Tweets at a glance first before delving into the lengthier time-ordered sections.”

How Does Facebook’s Algorithm Work?

The biggest recent change to Facebook’s algorithm took place in January 2018.

In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg announced:

“I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

He added:

“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

That same day, Adam Mosseri, who was then the head of News Feed, also wrote a Facebbok post that said:

“Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

He added:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

So, it isn’t surprising that influencers got the memo.

Which explains why so few believe Facebook represents a significant opportunity to make more money.

Ironically, it’s unclear that marketers got the memo.

Far too many are still cranking out Facebook posts and videos despite the fact that few people are reacting to, commenting on, or sharing them.

Or, as I wrote in Two Social Media Vanity Metrics You Need to Stop Tracking, marketers should stop tracking Facebook Page Likes and Followers because “you’re lucky if .0035% of your Fans and Followers even sees your post or tweet these days.”

new-media-academy.jpg

The Takeaway

These are just some of the strategic insights that marketers can discover by looking at how social media algorithms work from an influencer’s point of view.

If you’re a marketer, then I suggest you move most of the people and budget that you’ve dedicated to creating branded content on Facebook into influencer marketing on Instagram and YouTube.

As for TikTok and Twitter, wait until after the dust settles later this year.

[Source: This article was published in searchenginejournal.com By Greg Jarboe - Uploaded by the Association Member: Corey Parker]

Categorized in Social

Dark Web is that area of the internet that consists of encrypted content and is not indexed by search engines.

About 97% cybersecurity companies had their data exposed on the Dark Web in 2020.

Some data breaches occurred as recent as in end of August, a survey by security firm ImmuniWeb found.

The survey covered 398 cybersecurity companies headquartered across 26 countries including USA, UK, India, Canada and Germany.

Dark Web included both Deep Web and Surface Web in the survey. Dark Web consists of encrypted content that is not indexed by search engines.

More than 160 companies faced incidents as their employees used identical passwords on more than one breached system. Most of the passwords lacked basic security requirements - uppercase, numerical and special characters. Common passwords included ‘password’ and ‘123456’.

 

Half the exposed data consisted of plaintext credentials like financial and personal information.

US-based security firms showed most number of high-risk data breaches, followed by the UK. High-risk breaches include credentials with sensitive information.

A large number of leaks were silently performed by trusted third parties like suppliers or sub-contractors to the company.

Some stolen credentials came from incidents involving unrelated third parties where victims used work emails to sign into adult websites.

At least 5,121 stolen credentials were found in pornographic and adult-dating websites, ImmuniWeb said.

The report also stated that half the companies did not comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules owing to vulnerable software, lack of strong privacy policy, and missing cookie disclaimers when cookies contain traceable personal information.

More than a fourth of the vulnerabilities remain unpatched to date, the security firm said.

[Source: This article was published in thehindu.com By Sowmya Ramasubramanian - Uploaded by the Association Member: Nevena Gojkovic Turunz]

Categorized in Deep Web

Bug causes search UI to display random Bing results

We’ve known for a while that integrating the web search in the default Windows 10 search experience isn’t necessarily the best way to go, but here’s more evidence in this regard if you still needed it.

Some users are now seeing random web results in the search box whenever they search for a specific keyword. By the looks of things, the displayed Bing results have nothing to do with the keyword that was provided in the search box.

Several Windows 10 users have confirmed in this reddit thread that the bug happens on their devices too, and some say that a simple reboot of the computer fixes the whole thing.

 

In one case, simply searching for “S” in the Windows 10 search UI indeed provides a link to the Settings app, but the web search returns results that have nothing to with such a term. One of the results is a Wikipedia link for the “W” keyword.

Just disable Bing results

At this point, it’s not exactly clear what’s happening, but if a system reboot doesn’t bring things to normal, you can just disable Bing results from the Windows 10 search experience completely.

To do this, just launch the Registry Editor and look for the following path:

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

Just create a new DWORD (if it’s not there already) that is called DisableSearchBoxSuggestions and then set its value to 1. Reboot your computer and the web search results should no longer be offered in the Windows 10 search experience.

The aforementioned bug seems to be happening on all Windows 10 versions, including the May 2020 Update whose rollout is still under way. There’s a chance that the bug is caused by a server problem, as the recent cumulative updates are unlikely to be the ones to blame for the whole thing.

 

[Source: This article was published in news.softpedia.com By Bogdan Popa - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Categorized in Internet Search
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