March 27, 2017

Social and tech updates: new social media offers and more restrictions for a safer web

Twitter is not going to be a paid service, for sure, but...


It is reported that Twitter’s scheduling and tweet managing app, Tweetdeck, is coming with a paid version with additional features such as analytics, bookmarking, trends and alerts. This move has received criticism from Twitter fans that Twitter was sacrificing its open and democratic character in favor of money.


It will be worth watching whether the paid for Tweetdeck is actually lapped up by professional Twitterati at all and, if yes, how it impacts the core values of Twitter.



YouTube to trash unskippable 30-second ads

 
How irritated, even frustrated, you feel when you want to watch a YouTube video and are forced to watch a 30-second video that you cannot skip! 

The video platform has announced that it would stop this ad format in 2018. However, other ad formats including 6-second ads and skippable ads of longer duration would continue.
 

Google announces a way to further compress JPEG images

 
Google has announced that it is offering its new research product, Guetzli, for opensource use. Guetzli is an algorithm that creates high quality JPEG images with file sizes 35% smaller than currently available methods, enabling webmasters to create webpages that can load faster and use even less data, Google says.
 

Real-time location sharing on Google


While we are still with Google, this IT biggie is offering real-time location sharing on mobile devices as well as desktops, using Google Maps. It is not yet rolled out world-wide.


Google Maps tracks visitors' locations
Google tracks visitors on their way, real time.

As the linked video from Google presents, you could use the ‘share’ button on Google Maps to tell your friends where you are on way to the birthday party, and they would see your movement for the next one hour or so that you decide. So, no more concerned calls like ‘Where are you?’ and ‘Hey, everybody else has arrived. You stuck in traffic jam?’ 

UK is getting impatient with terror content on social media 


Please recall that in December last year, IT/ social media giants had got together to identify terror-related content in the face of tough stand by European Commission and a number of court cases in many countries against them for harboring such content. 

Facebook's CEO then told media that the platform was trying hard to filter out terror related stuff though it was a painstaking process because algorithm-based filtering was error-prone. Twitter, in its Terms of Service Violations report for the second half of 2016 (latest available) says, it has suspended as many as 376890 accounts for ‘violations related to promotion of terrorism’. 

But UK government is not amused. 

The Telegraph reports that the UK is planning to prosecute social media companies for showing extremist videos, in the wake of the recent terror attack in London. It is felt that though such content is removed in 24 hours or so, a lot of damage is done by that time. 


Social media companies have a responsibility when it comes to making sure this material is not disseminated and we have been clear repeatedly that we think that they can and must do more. We are always talking with them on how to achieve that... The ball is now in their court. We will see how they respond. This is how the PM’s official spokesman has let the displeasure known, according to the paper.
 

The UK Home Secretary then told BBC, they’d sneak into encrypted messages on chat sites: We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other... our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.

Germany to slap heavy penalty for hate content


Germany has joined the crusade to keep hate speech or libel from social networks. It has threatened a fine of up to 50 million Euros on social networks for not taking down such content. A bill is likely to be brought soon to this effect.
 

The Justice Minister says, Facebook and Twitter are not doing enough to remove content quickly when complaints are made, thus not paying heed to the voluntary code of conduct that was introduced two years back. 

Instagram to blur sensitive pics


Instagram blocks sensitive contentIn another example of proactive action (Well, it might not be that voluntary; remember the backlash on Twitter?) from social media platforms to remove inappropriate content, Instagram has decided to blur sensitive pictures. Such pictures coming on your timeline would have a blur mask over them and you would be able to view them only if you deliberately choose to do so by authentication. 

This would apply to content with nudity and sex, animal abuse, people in undignified situations, and so on. This would be in addition to the options such as blocking offensive accounts and  comments.

March 21, 2017

Bloggers on Blogger, have you seen these fantastic new themes?

Blogger, the free blogging platform of Google, has quietly added some contemporary themes/ templates. 

These themes come in four groups: Contempo, Soho, Emporio and Notable. Each has a number of sub-themes.

new-blog-theme
Notable theme: one option out of many


blogger-theme
Soho: new, bold, theme

One area in which Blogger was supposed to be poorer in comparison to Wordpress was that it did not have modern looking themes. We have seen comments such as 'Blogger blogs are fit for a 16-year old blogger experimenting with her fashion, and not for serious bloggers and in no way for professionals'.

blogger new theme
Contempo: another Blogger theme group

Those on Blogger platform had the facility to play with colors and layout but, yes, their choice for ready-made themes was rather limited. The new addition bridges that gap to a very large extent. With the ability to further customize the themes, bloggers on this platform can now easily create a new blog template of their choice, with dozens of choices of color, font, layout etc within each theme.

Emporio theme on Blogger
A blog on Emporio theme
One word of caution: Minutely study the preview pane (it comes just before the tool tabs, as shown in the images in this post) before applying any new theme, because your assets on the blog may be re-positioned in a way you may not like. When such changes are minor, you can correct them through 'advanced' tools within 'theme' or through 'layout' tools, but when these are too many and big, it would take too much time and energy in fixing them.