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Finally, YouTube Will Stop Recommending “borderline content”

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Finally YouTube Will Stop Recommending "borderline content"

In a much awaited move, YouTube, the popular user-content-generated video platform shall not recommend “borderline content” or conspiracy theories such as the moon landing was faked or the earth being flat, going forward.

On Friday Google-backed video content platform made the significant announcement in its content policy change based on long standing criticism by users about “clickbaity videos with misleading titles and descriptions (“You won’t believe what happens next!”),” the blog post noted.

Ongoing Improvement of recommendations        

According to the official blog, Youtube’s latest recommendation is based on ‘viewer satisfaction’ over that of “views, including measuring likes, dislikes, surveys, and time well spent, all while recommending clickbait videos less often.”

However, these recommendations were also found to be irksome by users. Following many complaints of people receiving similar recommendations based on one view, the current changes have been rolled out.

“We now pull in recommendations from a wider set of topics—on any given day, more than 200 million videos are recommended on the homepage alone. In fact, in the last year alone, we’ve made hundreds of changes to improve the quality of recommendations for users on YouTube.”

Watch-out for Violators of community Guidelines

Further, the media publisher will sharpen its look out “at how we can reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating our Community Guidelines.”

In fact, it would cease to recommend non-factual, ‘borderline content’ such as phone miracles for cancer or similar uploads.

Conceding that only 1 percent of the Youtube population would actually view ‘borderline content’ it vowed that it will not run any blanket ban on such posts.

Pulling-out its Community Guidelines as the ultimate judge on quality of content it would publish, Youtube has reiterated that ‘borderline content’ would be available for those who would like to watch such information. However, henceforth it would not recommend such videos based on its “recommendation” algorithm. Secondly, subscribers of such channels would continue to receive such recommendations as part of search results.

Youtube thus squarely leaves the responsibility to view content to the user community. It’s only restraint that it would officially not bring out ‘borderline content’ to those who do not appear to be interested in such content, until further use-pattern by the user.

A full-fledged program is already in place at YouTube United States by getting public guidelines-trained evaluators to train via machine learning systems to evaluate and generate recommendations.

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Youtube Gets Sued For Alleged LGBTQ Rights Infringement

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Youtube Gets Sued For LGBTQ Rights Infringement

A group of LGBTQ rights defenders in the US recently arraigned Google and YouTube in federal court. This band, including a handful of LGBTQ social media celebrities such as Chase Ross, Bria Kam, Chrissy Chambers, Brett Somers as well as the executives of GlitterbombTV.com, Alleges that YouTube’s ‘ad-friendly’ policies were actually not friendly to them in all ramifications. The litigation brought before the US district court in California accuses YouTube of such activities as limiting video contents tied to famous LGBTQ identities.

The Emerging Rights War

Following the recent developments, a lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against YouTube and its parent company – Google. These LGBTQ users leveraged upon the company’s purported ideology of “creating a platform of self-expression for all” and making a shit-load of money while at it. This perception of ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘freedom of information’ was however received differently by LGBTQ users, once they sensed a pre-planned discrimination towards the contents they upload on YouTube. 

Accordingly, the court order highlights that YouTube engaged in;

“unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ Plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ Community.”

The Plaintiff acknowledged that Google/YouTube supervises over 95% of all the digitally distributed video-based contents on a global scale. And as such, YouTube is registered as the largest for-profit channel dedicated to free speech and expression in the history of the world.

Furthermore, the Prosecuting party maintains that the Defendants generated an excess of $25 billion on an annual basis. Claiming that such profits are derived from regulating, distributing, and monetizing the free speech and expression of the 2.3 billion YouTubers worldwide. 

Google Apology

Still, Google upholds that it has always been a silent propagator of LGBTQ rights in the past. Demonstrating this, Google asserts to have advocated for gay rights around the world and officially sponsoring the San Francisco Pride parade. Nonetheless, this is not the first time Google/YouTube would be charged with such malfeasance. 

The social media giant took to Twitter during the 2018 ‘Pride Month’ to relay an apology with regards its biased ads sharing policies. But this time, the LGBTQ community does not seem to care about Google’s apology but rather a call for the restructuring of Google’s business model.

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With Targeted Ads Coming to WhatsApp This Year, Is the Instant Messaging Industry Ripe for Change?

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With Targeted Ads Coming to WhatsApp This Year, Is the Instant Messaging Industry Ripe for Change?

Since its inception in 2009, WhatsApp has widely been considered the standard bearer for instant messaging apps.

Allowing users to send text messages, images, documents, and other media, as well as offering video and voice calls, WhatsApp protected all of its user’s information by way of end-to-end encryption. All provided on an advertisement-free platform.

Thomas Koller, CEO of ATRONOCOM, believes that “We are entitled to privacy of communication, and nobody wants others reading personal messages about illness, business secrets, research, or data — anything for that matter.” And most people would agree.

While Whatsapp is currently private, this is about to change in 2019.

After months of rumors, a WhatsApp spokesperson has finally confirmed that targeted ads will be implemented this year while claiming that the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp has become known for will remain intact.

Questions remain unanswered

The reaction to the announcement from the WhatsApp spokesperson has been understandably less than favorable, but the whole process leaves a few questions that will need answering.

The first of these, is how Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) is going to be able to utilize targeted ads for users if they have no access to the end-to-end encrypted messages those users are sending?

As things stand, the only information that Facebook has access to on WhatsApp users is their phone number, which raises the question of exactly how Facebook intends to implement targeted advertising when they supposedly have no access to WhatsApp users data?

According to a security researcher who worked with WhatsApp on building its original end-to-end encryption protocol, there are “nuanced” ways that allow the encryption process to remain intact, but that would also allow Facebook to receive data about what people are saying in their WhatsApp messages.

An opportunity for a fresh approach?

Many observers are unsettled by the possibility of such a tactic being employed by Facebook, including WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who famously walked away from $850 million when he resigned from Facebook after being informed of the route they were planning to take in implementing targeted ads.

He later invested $50 million in the small messaging app, Signal, which intends to run with a mission to put users privacy before profit.

While WhatsApp and Facebook are undoubtedly the Kings of the instant messenger world at the moment, the various scandals regarding Facebook and users information are only leading to more questions being asked and more people becoming disillusioned with how business is being done.

The door is open for fresh ideas and new companies to make part of the instant messenger industry their own. It remains to be seen if anyone is ready to step up to the plate.

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