Google Apps for Visual Impairment, Facebook, Twitch, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, January 11, 2018


Google Apps Blog: Improved accessibility for Google Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. “We want to make sure our products work well for everyone. That’s why, as part of our ongoing accessibility initiatives, we’re launching new features for Google Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. Specifically, we’re adding Braille support in Google Sheets, and screen magnifier support in Google Slides and Drawings.”

CNET: Facebook dives deeper into music streaming with Sony/ATV deal. “You no longer need to worry about having to remove your Facebook video of your New Year’s Eve countdown party even if it had Ed Sheeran’s Perfect playing in the background. Facebook has just inked a multiyear, multiterritory licensing deal with Sony/ATV Music that will enable its users to upload and share videos featuring songs from Sony/ATV’s collection of 3 million works on Facebook, Instagram and Oculus.”

BBC: Twitch in last-minute deal with Overwatch. “A last-minute deal has been struck between the makers of video game Overwatch and streaming site Twitch a day before matches kick off in a newly created league. Developer Activision Blizzard hopes that the matches Twitch will stream will help make e-sports mainstream.”


Digital Trends: Here’s how to send a text from your email account. “Despite the fact that just about everyone can read their email on their smartphone, there will always be times and situations in which it is more advantageous to send a short email as a text. This is particularly useful if you’re emailing a non-smartphone user, need to send a text when you’re away from your phone, or want to use a text for branding purpose.”


Digiday: One year in, Facebook Journalism Project gets mixed reviews from publishers. “A year ago, Facebook launched its Facebook Journalism Project. Led by Campbell Brown, the ex-NBC News anchor who was Facebook’s new head of news partnerships, the project was a high-profile effort to smooth relations with prominent news publishers. Facebook was getting blasted for the spread of fake news, contributing to filter bubbles and doing too little to help publishers make money on the platform. The challenge inherent in such a project is that publishers aren’t a monolithic group. They have a variety of different business models and want different things from Facebook.”

The Daily Beast: This Is the Data Snapchat Doesn’t Want You to See. “Snapchat takes its secrecy seriously. Very, very seriously. Take the case of one former Snapchat employee. On his first day, he was forced to sit through an ominous orientation in which he was threatened with termination if he so much as breathed a word of what he was working on to friends or family. He was told that he couldn’t bring anyone into the building unapproved, and those who were cleared could only be taken to specific conference rooms or the cafe. After taking a seat at his desk, he realized that he couldn’t even speak about his job internally.” Yuck.

Engadget: Facebook and Google will testify to Senate over terrorist content. “It’s not just European countries who aren’t satisfied with internet giants’ ability to curb online terrorist content. The US Senate has summoned Facebook, Google (or rather, Alphabet) and Twitter to testify at a January 17th Commerce Committee hearing that will ‘examine the steps’ social networks have been taking to fight the spread of online extremist material. All three have agreed to testify and will send their policy leaders. We’ve asked them if they can comment on the upcoming testimony and will let you know if they can hint at what they’ll say.”


Wired: WhatsApp Security Flaws Could Allow Snoops To Slide Into Group Chats. “When WhatsApp added end-to-end encryption to every conversation for its billion users two years ago, the mobile messaging giant significantly raised the bar for the privacy of digital communications worldwide. But one of the tricky elements of encryption—and even trickier in a group chat setting—has always been ensuring that a secure conversation reaches only the intended audience, rather than some impostor or infiltrator. And according to new research from one team of German cryptographers, flaws in WhatsApp make infiltrating the app’s group chats much easier than ought to be possible.”

LA Times: Microsoft says fix for chip problem may significantly slow some servers. “Microsoft Corp. said fixes for security flaws present in most processors may significantly slow certain servers and dent the performance of some personal computers. It was the software maker’s first assessment of a global problem that Intel Corp. initially downplayed. Microsoft’s statement indicates slowdowns could be more substantial than Intel has indicated. Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said Monday that the problem may be more pervasive than first thought, but he didn’t discuss the degree of impact — only that some machines would be more affected than others.”


Getty: Our Responsibility to Protect Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones. “Monuments of cultural heritage should be protected for what they are: sources of local communal identity and civil society, economic recovery, and, through the military concept of courageous restraint, regional security. For too long, the international community has been slow to respond to this challenge. But things have finally begun to change. In 1998 the Treaty of Rome established the International Criminal Court (ICC) and stipulated as crimes against humanity ‘intentional attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments…provided they are not military objectives.’ In September 2016 it secured its first conviction, when Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi confessed to attacking historic and religious buildings in Timbuktu.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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