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Last Week Online #44 – Saudi Arabia needs better hackers, or better spies

Anna Loverus
Anna Loverus
2 min read

Instagram is feeling responsible for your mental health. Also, your mood hurts their profit.

Instagram will start hiding the Likes count for users in the US

Rumours about Instagram planning to hide the like count for everyone but the creator of a post for have been fluttering for quite some time. After running tests, hiding the likes count, in seven different countries around the world, and really soon, it will test to remove them for some US users as well. The underlying reason: to improve the mental health of its users.

"We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people's well-being and health," said Instagram's CEO Adam Mosseri during the Wired 25 conference. Explaining that "The idea is to try to depressurise Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give people more space to focus on connecting with the people they love and things that inspire them." The intention is to "reduce anxiety" and "reduce social comparison".

The intriguing question is, however, if the change will hurt influencers in need of likes to run their businesses. On that note, Mosseri said, "We have to see how it affects how people feel about the platform, how it affects how they use the platform, how it affects the creator ecosystem." Most likely, there will be loud complains from unhappy Instagrammers over the next months.

YouTube homepage gets a makeover to increase usability

YouTube just launched a new, cleaner, design to its website, reducing the amount of information you meet upon arrival. The update introduced larger thumbnails that allow for higher-resolution previews and supports longer video titles that, consequently, provide users with more context before clicking.

The re-design is focused on desktop and tablet versions of YouTube. It also introduces new features like nifty options to "Watch Later", and a "Don't recommend channel" feature introduced in YouTubes mobile apps earlier this year. The latter feature means that you can tell YouTube to stop suggesting videos from a particular channel in your feed.

The design changes go in line with a lot of Google updates lately – reducing the amount of information visible at any given time, giving the content room to breath. Google Play apps and Google News in Search had recently gone through similar design changes.

Two Twitter employees sold information on users to the Saudi Arabian government

According to newly unsealed court documents, Saudi Arabian officials allegedly paid at least two Twitter employees to get access to data on specific users. Within a week from meeting a member of the Saudi royal family in Washington, DC, in 2015, one employee had begun to access data on thousands of users.

The employees – one working in media partnerships in the Middle East, the other being an engineer – were promised "a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars" if they could retrieve personal information on users. The users targeted included political activists and journalists criticising the royal family and the Saudi government.

One of the employees, when discovered by his supervisors and forced to leave work, flew to Saudi Arabia with his family literally the next day. He is now working for the Saudi government. Both the former employees are now charged with acting as unregistered Saudi agents.

Tool of the week: GoodNotes

Have you ever wished you actually had an app for your phone or iPad that really worked when taking notes by hand? GoodNotes does. It's the first out of many tries were my handwriting actually looks like it does on paper. Pretty and readable – when using an Apple Pencil on my Ipad.

Using the new updates in macOS Catalina, all the notes are easily accessible on my computer as well. And, they are searchable using OCR technology. Convenient and fun!

You should give it a try.

Last Week Online

Anna Loverus Twitter

Thinker and doer. Loves running, wine, and human behaviour.


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