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Last Week Online #49 – Politicians are already preparing for the big breakup

Anna Loverus
Anna Loverus
2 min read

Some updates make you wonder – how could this be allowed in the first place?

YouTube won't allow racist and homophobic harassment on its platform anymore

On Wednesday, YouTube updated its harassment policy. Announcing that they will remove all material that "maliciously insulted or demeaned others because of their race, gender or sexual orientation". Additionally, Youtube will ban "veiled or implied" threats or "language suggesting physical violence may occur."

Six months ago, YouTube was heavily criticised for refusing to ban he right-wing personality Steven Crowder, who had used racist and homophobic language against a Vox journalist in his Youtube content. YouTube said, at that time, that the material did not breach its policies, but this update seems to respond to the backlash the situation created.

Some questions arise from the policy update. First, Youtube is not famous for enforcing its policies – will that change now? Second, YouTube will partly use AI for the task, but the AI will also get help from thousands of new moderators who will scan videos for problematic content. However, the human moderators who watch content flagged by AI on the tech platforms have been found to get severe mental health issues from the job. How will they deal with that?

Federal officials might not let Facebook integrate its messaging services

The Federal Trade Commission is considering seeking a preliminary directive against Facebook to prevent it from integrating its messaging services, according to the Wall Street Journal. The FTC who worries that the integration of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger that Facebook has been preparing for technically, would make it harder to break up Facebook later on.

Facebook and other big technology companies — Google, Apple and Amazon — are increasingly criticised for how they are exercising their power. Facebook has drawn particular attention for its dominant position in social networking, buying smaller rivals such as Instagram and WhatsApp over the years, increasing its lead.

The agency has not made a final decision about what to do. In July, Facebook revealed that the FTC was investigating it for antitrust concerns. Additionally, the Justice Department, Congress and state attorneys general are also examining whether Facebook has acted anticompetitively.

Instant translation of speech now built into Google Assistant

Google Assistant can now translate speech in your phone. By saying "Hey Google, be my [insert language of choice] translator" and capturing the speech, it will begin to translate as soon as someone starts talking.

You have to wait for a second or two for the translation, and it's hard to tell how it will deal with thicker accents, but it's pretty quick. The assistant will then speak it out loud, or you can choose to use the keyboard and read the translation on your phone's screen. Google Assistant is also smart enough to offer replies – short phrases that it thinks could be a natural follow-up – that you tap on the screen.

The technology is not new, but previously you had to download a separate app. Now it's built into any Android phone, or for Google Assistant for iPhone. The feature currently supports forty-four languages, and since the translations take place in the cloud, you have to be online for it to work. If you instead use the Google Translate app, you can download a language and use when you are offline.

Tool of the week: Inseries

Are you, like me, tired of the crappy calculator in your phone? You often have a limited set of choices, and you don't have any way to save historical results. Also, since spreadsheets are not a great user experience on a small screen, you feel like modern life might not be so impressive after all.

Inseries is a smart calculator app that includes features like intelligent percentages (i.e. 929+20%) and date calculations (1.1.2020+52). It also lets you both browse previous results and reuse them when you solve serial problems, almost like a simplified spreadsheet.

Give it a try. Your life will be better.

Last Week Online

Anna Loverus Twitter

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

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