Bytes: What’s new in tech
Gmail gets more private
“Gmail will no longer snoop on your emails for advertising purposes,” said Brian Fung in The Washington Post. Google is dropping its controversial practice of scanning users’ emails for targeted ads, saying the change will go into effect later this year. Users will continue to see ads inside Gmail, but the data used to target ads will come from other Google products, like search and YouTube. They’ll also be able to control what kinds of ads they see in their account settings. “The history of Google’s email scanning has been a checkered one,” with the company facing multiple lawsuits over the years from privacy advocates. Under legal pressure, the company stopped scanning emails for customers using Google Apps for Education in 2014, a policy it later extended to all of its enterprise users.
Instagram’s troll buster
Instagram has launched a system “that will automatically detect mean, offensive, and harassing comments and make sure that people never see them,” said Darrell Etherington in TechCrunch.com. The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app is using machine-learning software called DeepText, an in-house tool originally built to help fight spam on the social network. Instagram programmers have trained DeepText to identify negative comments and make them disappear. The process involved analyzing 2 million comments and categorizing them into segments like “bullying, racism, or sexual harassment.” The system, which is already live, aims to filter abusive posts before they reach their intended target. However, it will appear to the commenters that their nasty invective was posted, in order “to keep them from trying to override the filters through repeat attempts.”
Dating apps embrace video
“Like it or not, it’s becoming very clear that video is about to become a big part of online dating,” said Cassie Murdoch in Mashable.com. Dating app Hinge just became one of the first major dating apps to add videos to its profiles. Other dating apps also have plans to roll out video features, and most are opting to accept video clips from existing social media apps because they want the process to be easy for users. Match is working on a Snapchat-like Stories feature, while Bumble has announced similar plans to add 10-second videos that disappear after 24 hours. “It remains to be seen, however, whether vast amounts of single people are ready for their close-up.” ■