Vine, Lavabit, Snapchat, More: Sunday Buzz, January 22, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

Do you miss Vine already? Now there’s an archive. “Vine won’t be going away after all. The six-second video service that gave the world ‘on fleek’ and an enthusiastic community of homegrown celebrities will live on in the Vine Archive, a time capsule dedicated to the site’s all-too-brief four year lifespan.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Email service Lavabit is relaunching. “In 2013, Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company’s service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers’ communications. The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit’s most prominent users — Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service’s SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden’s password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden’s account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well.”

The Trump Administration has joined Snapchat. “The Trump campaign wasn’t completely naive to Snapchat. For example, they purchased a nationwide custom Snapchat filter for the first presidential debate. These videos also were included in the story curated by Snapchat for Inauguration Day. Trump’s account is categorized as an official story, meaning that the account is verified by Snapchat. It also means he receives a special emoji next to his name.”

TechCrunch: Google wants to make YouTube a better place for advertisers. “Despite its massive success with viewers, Google always had a hard time convincing advertisers that its video platform was the best place for them to reach their target audiences. Now, Google promises to give advertisers and agencies better tools to measure their reach and target specific audiences — all with a focus on mobile.”

USEFUL STUFF

Hongkiat: 12 Chrome Extensions to Get The Best Out of Google Drive . “To enhance its usability and help you get more out of Google Drive there is a large number of different extensions available. In this post, we are showcasings useful Chrome extensions that may help you boost your productivity while working with Google Drive.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

How messy was the governor race in North Carolina? It was so messy that the incoming governor didn’t get access to social media accounts from the old governor. “When former Gov. Pat McCrory turned over the keys to North Carolina’s Executive Mansion to Gov. Roy Cooper on Jan. 1, his staff didn’t include the keys to the social media accounts used by the Governor’s Office. The Republican’s picture still adorns what were his office’s official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and the last post on those platforms dates to a Dec. 31 goodbye message from McCrory.”

Facebook: Ooopsie! Sorry about banning you, tattoo artist for breast cancer survivors! “Facebook says it was mistaken in disabling the accounts of a woman who aids breast cancer survivors in the St. Louis area by creating tattoos of the nipple and areola after reconstructive surgery.”

Los Angeles Times: Mark Zuckerberg is acting like he might run for president. “As the United States changes presidents, Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg is doing something. This week, he did something in Texas: He went to his first rodeo. He wore a hard hat and a safety vest. He thanked police officers in Dallas for their hard work. He helped plant a community garden. So what, exactly, is Mark Zuckerberg doing? Well, even without a peep from the man confirming any interest in the job, some have started to believe that Zuckerberg is running for president.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

BetaNews: Hacking group uses Google services to control malware. “Carbanak, a powerful cyber-crime group, is using certain Google services as command and control for its malware and other malicious elements. The news was released by cybersecurity firm Forcepoint this week. Forcepoint uncovered a trojanized RTF document, which, once ran, will ‘send and receive commands to and from Google Apps Script, Google Sheets, and Google Forms services.'”

Phys.org: Traders use algorithms that capture Trump’s remarks and then buy or sell affected stocks. “The jaw-dropping speed at which certain stocks have moved in response to Donald Trump’s tweets about corporate America makes it seem as if Wall Street already was waiting for the president-elect’s words. It was. Some sophisticated traders with automated programs are using computer algorithms that instantly capture Trump’s Twitter remarks and then immediately buy or sell the affected stocks, analysts said.”

From the Times of India: Can’t restrain law portal, Google from posting court orders online: Gujarat high court. “Justice RM Chhaya on Thursday turned down a petition filed by one Dharmraj Dave, who had urged the court to direct a law portal and tech-giant Google to delete an HC judgement from internet because such a public exhibition of the order might jeopardize his chances of migrating to Australia.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Search Engine Land: Study shows search terms with the very worst (and best) click-through rates. “Not all searches are created equal — when it comes to click-through rate (CTR), that is. A new study from Seige Media uncovers the top 42 keyword terms, along with their average CTRs. This exercise examined the top 50 keyword ‘stems’ to find what terms helped spur clicks and, more importantly, what terms didn’t.” From a searcher’s perspective, this is “what terms might engender the practice of keyword stuffing, and what terms might not.” Good morning, Internet…

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DuckDuckGo, InstaPaper, Twitter, More: Saturday Buzz, January 21, 2017

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Congratulations to DuckDuckGo for 10 billion searches. “DuckDuckGo, the privacy search engine that allows users to search without fear of queries being tracked, reached a major milestone last year — surpassing an accumulative 10 billion searches since the site’s inception. The search engine says four billion of those searches happened in 2016. Already this year, DuckDuckGo says it had its biggest day ever when it served up 14 million searches on January 10, 2017.”

InstaPaper has added a Firefox extension. “Today we’re launching an official Instapaper extension for Firefox! We’ve been getting a lot of requests from Firefox users to build an extension to match the ones we offer for Chrome, Opera and Safari. Now, we’re happy to roll out the same great saving features for Firefox.”

TechCrunch: Twitter’s latest feature tries to identify your BFF. “Twitter thinks it has identified your BFF. The company is currently testing a new feature that will highlight the tweets from a select, single account that Twitter thinks you’ll want to see. Yes: a single person’s tweets will get their own special spot on your timeline.”

TheNextWeb: The White House’s climate change and LGBT rights pages have disappeared. “We’re approaching two hours after Trump officially became our 45th President, and his transition to the White House has already led to change — to the official White House website. Gone are all mentions (sitewide) of climate change. Also missing is the former LGBT rights page, which now redirects to an opt-in form to receive the Trump newsletter.” It is not my place to assess the platform of the new President except through personal political activism (like voting and contacting my representative.) It is absolutely my place to note cases of digital impermanence and data removal.

Interesting: Amit Singhal has gone to Uber. “Employee no. 176, Singhal worked for 15 years at Google where he was the Internet giant’s head search honcho. He left Google last year and now will lead the maps and marketplace departments at Uber as well as advise Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and vice president of engineering and Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski on self-driving technology, according to a report in technology news outlet TechCrunch.”

USEFUL STUFF

Hongkiat: 15 Google Photos Tips for Power Users . “On the surface, Google Photos is a simple tool that automatically organizes your photos and videos based on different factors. However, if we take a deeper look, it hides tons of amazing new features that can make photo organizing a breeze.”

This video from YouTube clocks in at just over six minutes: How to edit and download YouTube closed captions, upload subtitles to Facebook (2017).

Noupe: High-Quality Stock Videos: 20 Free (or Almost Free) Sites to Download. “Over the last years the quality of online stock footage has increased dramatically. A creative video intro or looping video background on the front page is perfect to draw attention. You can use stock footage in your personal (and most of it in your commercial) projects. We’ve rounded up 20 of the best free stock video websites! Enjoy!”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Uh-oh: is Locky on the march again? “Cisco is warning of possible return of a massive ransomware spam campaign after researchers noticed traces of traffic from the hitherto dormant Necrus botnet.”

Brian Krebs: Who is Anna-Senpai, the Mirai Worm Author? “On September 22, 2016, this site was forced offline for nearly four days after it was hit with ‘Mirai,’ a malware strain that enslaves poorly secured Internet of Things (IoT) devices like wireless routers and security cameras into a botnet for use in large cyberattacks. Roughly a week after that assault, the individual(s) who launched that attack — using the name ‘Anna-Senpai’ — released the source code for Mirai, spawning dozens of copycat attack armies online. After months of digging, KrebsOnSecurity is now confident to have uncovered Anna-Senpai’s real-life identity, and the identity of at least one co-conspirator who helped to write and modify the malware.” Long but fascinating article – he weaves tons of little bits of information into one cohesive whole.

BetaNews: Data breaches up by 40 percent in 2016. “The last year has seen fewer of the large scale breaches that made the headlines in 2014 and 2015, but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. A new report from CyberScout and the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has found a 40 percent increase in the US with a total of 1,093 data breaches in 2016, up from 780 in 2015.”

LA Times / AP: Lawsuits blame Facebook and Twitter in terror attacks in Paris, Brussels. “Twitter says it has suspended hundreds of thousands of user accounts in the past 18 months for threatening or promoting acts of terrorism. But that isn’t enough, say lawyers for the families of terror victims… In a string of lawsuits filed in New York, they say they want Twitter and Facebook to pay damages for failing to stop violent extremists from using their platforms to recruit followers, intimidate enemies and raise money.” Good morning, Internet…

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Influencer Marketing, YouTube, Snapchat, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, January 20, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

Now available: a search engine to find “influencers” (PRESS RELEASE). I have word “influencers” in quotes because based on what I can infer from this press release, it might be a search engine for people who are really good at making noise online. Of course there might be a lot of secret sauce in here I don’t know about. “With Universal Search, brand marketers can search for influencers across 100 social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other niche social communities such as Yelp!, Reddit, and Weibo. Additionally, they can view key insights by influencer segment to understand follower size and reach, conversation sentiment, frequency of activity and other characteristics.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

YouTube is once more celebrating commercials for that big football game which apparently must not be named.. Lord FootdeBall. “To continue to spotlight excellence as part of our AdBlitz program, we’ve made two key changes. First, in addition to our main list of AdBlitz winners, we’ll be recognizing top performers in individual categories, like automotive and food & beverage. Second, we’ve seen more and more traditional in-game advertisers choose to launch ads around the Big Game versus during the actual broadcast. This year, these spots will also be eligible to compete in AdBlitz.”

Soccer fan? Snapchat has some new lenses for you. “Bespoke lenses for fans of 13 teams across the UK, France, Italy, Spain and Germany are available across each team’s country until midnight Sunday 22 January, after which they’ll be available at each team’s stadium for the rest of the season.”

Facebook has tweaked the Web version of Messenger. It’s weird to find a message that was written over a year ago because Facebook hid it in an inbox you didn’t know you were supposed to check. “Just under two years ago, Facebook introduced a web interface for its private chat application, Messenger. Now, Facebook is integrating that same web app into the desktop version of Facebook, where it replaces the older messaging experience. The change has been spotted by a number of users in multiple markets – including TechCrunch staff in the U.S. and Europe – which hinted it was more than a small-scale ‘test.'”

Google is phasing out some legacy apps. “Google will completely shut down the older versions of Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides for both Android and iOS on April 3rd. People don’t even have that long until they can no longer use them, though: starting on March 1st, users will get prompts forcing them to upgrade if they want to continue using the applications.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

The Wall Street Journal did some number crunching on Google’s AdWords ads and came up with some numbers that are sure to raise eyebrows. From the Recode article: “According to a data analysis in the Wall Street Journal, the search giant has been buying millions of its own ads and displaying its products such as Google Home and Nest thermostats atop search results, over those of ad-buying customers. Analysis of 25,000 searches of selected terms found that 91 percent of the time, Google and Alphabet products took the top spot.”

Mashable: Twitter’s complicated relationship with developers just got worse. “Despite embracing developers early on in its history, the company gained a reputation as unfriendly to developers in later years when it began restricting how developers could use its API in their apps. The company also publicly wrestled with developers like Politwoops and Twitpic. Unlike in previous moves, Twitter is not clamping down on restrictions to its API. By selling to Google, it is shifting away daily responsibility and monetary resources to Alphabet. Customers of Fabric won’t need to make any changes, other than read a new terms of use. ”

The Guardian: Civil rights groups urge Facebook to fix ‘racially biased’ moderation system. “Facebook allows white supremacists to spread violent threats while censoring Black Lives Matter posts and activists of color, according to civil rights groups that called on the technology company to fix its ‘racially biased’ moderation system.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

Paresh Dave at the LA Times has an update on that employee who sued Snapchat after termination. (And if I remember correctly the employee had been at Snapchat for some crazy-short amount of time – six weeks or something?) “…in a court filing late Wednesday, Snap said [Anthony] Pompliano did get a new job shortly after leaving Snap. He was fired after less than two months in December 2015 by Brighten Labs. Three months later, Pompliano filed a lawsuit against Brighten, alleging wrongful termination and unjust denial of a 25% stake in the anonymous complimenting app, according to the court papers. Brighten Labs, which denied his claims, didn’t offer immediate comment about the ongoing litigation.”

Oh, gross. From NBC News: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Is Suing Hundreds of Hawaiians to Force Them to Sell Property to Him. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly is suing hundreds of Hawaiians to compel them to sell the billionaire small plots of land they own that lie within a 700-acre property that Zuckerberg purchased on the island of Kauai two years ago for $100 million.” Good morning, Internet…

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Rochester Hills Museum, Kelowna Art Gallery, Wake Forest University, More: Friday Buzz, January 20, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

The Rochester Hills Museum (Michigan) has added a lot of content, including old newspapers, to its site. “Over 7,000 catalog records have been uploaded to the museum’s online database using a museum cataloging software called PastPerfect. The collections include archival photographs and documents, and objects related to the greater Rochester area and the Taylor/Van Hoosen family. The museum’s collection of old newspapers is also available for view.”

The Kelowna Art Gallery (British Columbia, Canada) has put its permanent collection online. “The collection contains 881 pieces by 166 different artists in a wide variety of media, ranging from acrylic paintings to hand-woven wicker sculpture and even to a vintage hockey helmet with honeycomb attached.”

DigitalNC has launched an archive for the Wake Forest University Jurist. “These campus publications document the updates about the goings on Wake Forest School of Law, the accomplishments of alums, and various information about the institution and the field of law generally.” The headline says “25 Years” but browsing through it I saw issues ranging from 1971 to 2015.

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google has released a Tilt Brush toolkit. “Tilt Brush is a tool for creators of all backgrounds and styles to make art in virtual reality. Sketches made in Tilt Brush stand on their own — you can film your sketches, take 2D snapshots, export them as 3D objects. However there hasn’t been an easy way to add animation, interactivity, or sequencing to your art. That is, until now.”

LinkedIn has launched a redesign of its desktop version. “After a short preview in September last year, and the small matter of getting acquired for $26.2 billion by Microsoft, today LinkedIn — the social network for the professional world with close to 470 million users — is finally unveiling its redesign of its desktop site, complete with a simpler, app-like look; a new messaging experience that appears as a pop-up on the homepage; and updated search features. LinkedIn said the new desktop version will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks.”

I’m not even sure I knew Microsoft HAD a competitor to Twitch. But it does, and it’s gotten an upgrade. “The most conspicuous change is what you’ll see the moment you hop in. There’s a revamped home page that can feature multiple streams and show more info about a broadcaster’s communities. Also, you’ll notice a revamped, HTML5-only player that touts better video-on-demand controls, playback at higher bitrates (up to 10Mbps) and higher resolutions (1440p at 60 frames per second, anyone?). However, some of the biggest improvements are under the hood.”

Microsoft is killing off Cache, which I had barely heard of and which from its description sounds like it’s only fractionally useful as compared to OneNote. “When Microsoft launched its Cache note-taking experiment last year, we hoped it could become Microsoft’s version of Google Keep, if Microsoft devoted enough resources to it. Sadly, that’s not the case.”

After ages (months certainly. Years?) of being on leave, Matt Cutts has finally left Google. “After dipping his toes in government work last year, Google Search guru Matt Cutts is now stepping away from Google in a more permanent way. Cutts, who has wrestled spam and SEO at Google since 2000, joined the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) in mid-2016 for a role that he expected to last three months. After extending his stay by three more, Cutts, now the USDS director of engineering, will take over as the in-house tech consulting group’s acting administrator.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

Have you been having trouble with your Instagram app? It’s not just you. “Twitter has been abuzz over the past several hours with many users complaining that Instagram’s Android and iOS apps are crashing when they try to upload photos and Stories.”

SECURITY/LEGAL ISSUES

NewCo: S&*!t! I’m Locked Out By Google Authenticator and I Can’t Get In! (Cartoonish obscenity reproduced as is.) “It’s great to depend on Google’s authentication system to confirm your identity on an online application’s website — until it doesn’t work. If you’ve ever been locked out of your own life, here’s how to work around that conundrum.”

BloombergQuint: Indonesia Tax Agency Demands Meeting With Top Google Executives. “A meeting on Thursday with the tax office was abruptly halted after senior executives from Google failed to show and the company sent only a local representative, Hestu Yoga Saksama, a spokesman for the Directorate General of Taxation, said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Friday. Google had submitted some financial statements but they didn’t match the tax agency’s own assessment of the revenue the company was making in Indonesia, he said.”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

The Wrap: Hashtags to Cash: Twitter Buzz Can Boost Box Office, Study Finds. “The Emerson study, conducted as part of a School of Communication research course at the university, involved manually coding a sample of 12,000 tweets out of a selection of more than 800,000 tweets that included hashtags related to 17 movies released in the fall of 2016. All films were wide releases and none were holiday-themed, to avoid any skew from unique audiences.” Good morning, Internet…

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African-American Women, Megafauna Brains, Google+, More: Thursday Afternoon Buzz, January 19, 2017

NEW RESOURCES

DigitalNC has added new materials from the North Carolina Federation of Negro Women’s Clubs. “Founded in 1909 by Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, the North Carolina Federation of Negro Women Clubs, Young Adult & Youth Clubs, Incorporated is a social service organization focused on issues that affect women, children, and communities of color in North Carolina.The group still meets regularly and many of the materials date from the most recent conference. This exhibit contains materials relating the organization’s statewide activities, including conferences, fundraisers, and service activities.”

New to me and apparently in its early stages: a digital archive for the brain scans of megafauna. From the “Background” page: “Despite the advances in neuroimaging tools, they have not been widely applied to the brains of non-human animals. Apart from humans, non-human primates, rats and mice, almost no information exists about the connectivity of other species’ brains. For example, what is it in a tiger’s brain that makes it a tiger? Or in a bear’s brain that makes a bear? The relationship between brain and species is fundamental to understanding the evolution of the nervous system, and can illuminate sensory, motoric, and cognitive adaptations that help situate each species in its ecological niche. A leading theory suggests that as brains get bigger they become more modularized. With new imaging tools and advances in network science, we can now test these ideas.”

TWEAKS AND UPDATES

Google has announced some changes to Google+. “With this latest round of updates, we believe the new Google+ is really your Google+— designed around your suggestions, requests and needs. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to classic Google+ on the web, which we’ll be turning down on January 24.”

BloombergQuint: Alphabet’s Google Buys Mobile App Tool Fabric From Twitter. “Alphabet Inc.’s online search division agreed to purchase Fabric, a Twitter business that provides a software toolkit for mobile apps. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms. For Twitter, the deal allows it to offload another asset as it faces pressure to deliver growth. For Google, which is absorbing Twitter employees working on Fabric, the acquisition is designed to help it recruit mobile developers, a key constituent, to its cloud computing service.”

USEFUL STUFF

CNET has what it’s calling a “complete list” of commands for Google Home. “Google hasn’t released a full list of commands for Home, so we had to do our best to assemble and test everything we could think of. If we’re missing anything, make sure to leave it in a comment so we can update the list as we go. Here’s the (almost) complete list of voice commands for the Google Home so far.”

TheNextWeb: 12 keyword research tools and creative ways to use them. “For over seven years, I’ve used keyword research to consistently bring myself and clients valuable, targeted long lasting traffic. It can be one of the biggest land grab opportunities in SEO – if you know the tools to use and how to use the tools.” I am not particularly interested in SEO, but I find keyword tools useful for expanding my search vocabulary.

Useful-for-a-Given-Value: Boing Boing has a writeup on a site that lets you surface (almost) unwatched YouTube videos. “Astronaut.io randomly plays new YouTube video that have close to 0 views. It plays a few seconds of each video before moving on to another random video. If a certain video catches your attention, click the dot below the video to see the whole thing.”

AROUND THE SEARCH AND SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

From Nonprofit Quarterly: Social Media as an Organizational Game Changer. “If you are one of those nonprofits still approaching social media as simply another tool in your belt, you are very much missing the point. Social media has been an assumption buster for nonprofits of all kinds, and on a larger basis, for civil society. Its naturally reciprocal and boundary-crossing character is at the very center of its transformative potential—but in some nonprofits this central characteristic may find an open and hospitable host, and in others it may find an unimaginative, slow-to-adjust, recalcitrant setting.”

Government Technology: What to Do When a Social Media Star Collapses. “Vine came into the world with a roar, but left with a whimper that equated to some rearranging of its business strategy and a newish, but much more limited application. What has been described as the ‘death’ of the platform raises some important questions for those in the public sector. Namely, what do you do when a social network withers and dies?”

RESEARCH AND OPINION

Newswire: Social Media Poised to Take Over Advertising by 2020. “According to a recent study from Zenith Group, we’ve seen social media advertising double over the past two years with more than $16 billion in ad revenue in 2016. It’s growing at a rate of 20 percent, and experts are certain that this form of media will be the top grossing advertising field by 2020.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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