Category Archives: News

Tumblr will start blocking adult content on December 17th

Tumblr has announced that it will no longer allow adult content beginning December 17th. The site, which is owned by Engadget’s parent company, says that content includes “photos, videos or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples and any content — including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — that depicts sex acts.” The move comes just after Tumblr’s app was removed from the App Store, reportedly because of images of child sexual abuse that made their way onto the site.

In a statement, Tumblr said at the time that while it scans every uploaded image against a database of known child sexual abuse material, images that hadn’t yet been included in the database were found on its site. It removed the content and reiterated that it had a “zero tolerance policy” against that type of material. But during that same time, Tumblr was also reportedly removing other posts featuring adult content, which some people believed to be a response to the App Store removal.

“As Tumblr continues to grow and evolve, and our understanding of our impact on our world becomes clearer, we have a responsibility to consider that impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures and mindsets,” the company said in a statement about its decision to ban adult content. “We spent considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content. In doing so, it became clear that without this content we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

Some content will still be allowed under the new rules, including breasts in the context of breastfeeding, birth and health-related situations, as well as erotica, nudity related to a newsworthy event and nudity in art. Those whose posts have been flagged as having adult content will be notified, and they’ll be able to appeal Tumblr’s decision. Adult content posts will be reverted to a private setting.

“We’re relying on automated tools to identify adult content and humans to help train and keep our systems in check,” said Tumblr. “We know there will be mistakes, but we’ve done our best to create and enforce a policy that acknowledges the breadth of expression we see in the community.” The company added that it plans to be “as transparent as possible” with its users regarding any decisions it makes going forward.

In 2016, Indonesia banned Tumblr for hosting pornographic content, and last year the company introduced a safe mode that allows users to hide sensitive material from view.



Facebook kills ad targeting program based on third-party data


Facebook said it will shut down its Partner Categories program, which was launched in 2013 and helps advertisers target ads based on third-party data, according to multiple reports, including a press release from Acxiom, one of the participating data brokers.
The program will wind down over the next few months, impacting partners like Epsilon, Oracle and WPP, in addition to Acxiom. The news is latest in a series of steps Facebook has taken to address concerns over data privacy in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Acxiom, in a press release, said the change in its relationship with Facebook is expected to negatively impact total revenue and profitability in 2019 by as much as $25 million. The company’s stock value was down 25% in trading Thursday morning.
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For many marketers, the news is likely to leave a hole in digital marketing strategies. Consumers demand personalization, the argument goes, and Facebook’s Partner Categories has been a powerful engine for delivering on this need and one of the social media giant’s key draws for advertisers. For brands looking to drive a bigger return on their investment, the thinking is that by narrowly targeting campaigns, money won’t be wasted on ads that reach consumers uninterested in making a purchase. The news, while significant, is in line with other recent steps by Facebook to address data privacy following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, although the argument could be made that so far the social media giant has been putting the burden on developers, in news announced last week, and now on data brokers. Facebook also said yesterday that it is making its privacy controls more prominent.

Not everyone has been excited about ultra-precise targeting. P&G, back in 2016, notably said it would walk back from overly narrow targeting on Facebook as the strategy contributed to stagnating sales because the marketer wasn’t reaching a broad enough group of consumers.

Some consumers have also complained that personalized ads can feel creepy when it seems like advertisers know too much about someone. Facebook’s targeting, on its own, enables brands to reach users based on self-selected data like gender, age, location and relationship status, according to information on the website for Nanigans, a Facebook marketing partner. With Partner Categories, brands can take targeting up several notches by matching Facebook data with clusters — 1,000 different clusters were offered as of several years ago — created by third-party data providers, such as people in households where insurance was renewed in a certain month or people in households that are heavy purchasers of certain product categories.

The news about Partner Categories could set the stage for a significant upheaval in digital marketing since Facebook commands a large percentage of brands’ digital advertising budgets. The impact could be compounded if other digital platforms follow suit, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility given the heightened attention to data privacy. Google earlier this week said it will support non-targeting ads as a way for publishers to address the upcoming GDPR regulations set to go into effect in Europe on May 25.




Twitter also has a problem with ads targeted towards hate speech

‘The Daily Beast’ was able to buy and post ads targeting keywords like ‘wetback.’

ProPublica found that Facebook allows ads to be targeted at users based on antisemitic keywords and BuzzFeed has reported that Google similarly allows ads to be targeted through racist and hateful phrases. So, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise at this point that it turns out Twitter is laden with similar issues.

The Daily Beast reports today that its staff was successful in launching ad campaigns on Twitter using terms like “wetback” and “Nazi” to target particular audiences. When purchasing ads, Twitter’s platform asks advertisers to select keywords that aid in helping the site place ads in front of relevant users. When Daily Beast reporters typed “wetback” into this feature, Twitter informed them that 26.3 million users might respond to that term. Similarly, it said 18.6 million accounts would probably be interested in the term “Nazi.” After confirming that their ad campaigns were successful, The Daily Beast terminated each of them.

Twitter’s ad policy notes that it prohibits the promotion of hate content and says that advertisers are responsible for their own ads. And while in its policies for keyword targeting, Twitter states that racial or ethnic origin categories can’t be included, hate speech isn’t specifically mentioned.

YouTube improves stream performance and simplifies live chats

YouTube announced a handful of new features available now for its livestream function. The changes, including reduced latency and simpler chat moderation, are aimed at making YouTube Live a more functional and efficient feature for users.

First up, streamers now have the option to enable ultra-low latency, which will bring down streaming video latency to just a couple of seconds. That will make functions like answering questions during a livestream easier and more timely. YouTube has also made moderating chats easier and more efficient. You can now pause a chat feed by pressing “alt/option” and then hover over messages to take them out or approve them. Streamers can also opt in to a feature that will hold possibly inappropriate messages for review. The system, which can learn users’ preferences with greater use, will keep identified messages from posting before users can decide whether to approve them, hide them or report them.

YouTube is also introducing hidden users lists that can be shared between moderators and across both comments and live chat as well as the ability to stream directly to the main YouTube app with your iPhone or iPad from any app that supports Apple’s ReplayKit. All of the new features are launching today.

The solar eclipse hype is annoying, but the event is worth it

By now, it’s possible that you are completely fatigued by the August 21st total solar eclipse and all the media hype surrounding it — and it hasn’t even happened yet. It seems as though every outlet is talking nonstop about this event. But this actually is a big deal, which is why it’s gotten so much coverage. Let us break it down for you; this is one of those rare cases where the actual event is worth all the hype around it.

Total solar eclipses occur when the moon moves between our planet and the sun, and our satellite casts its shadow on the Earth. The moon appears to fully block out the sun, which only happens because of a remarkable coincidence. The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but the sun’s distance from us is 400 times that of the Earth to the Moon, so they appear to be the same size in our sky. Therefore, during a total solar eclipse, the moon completely blocks out the sun and the star’s corona (the surrounding halo) is visible. These events don’t occur often; they happen roughly every one and a half years somewhere on Earth (often in difficult-to-reach places such as the middle of an ocean or Antarctica). But it’s usually rare to see them more than once in the same location in a short period of time.

There hasn’t been a total solar eclipse viewable from the continental United States since the 1970s. An event on February 26th, 1979 covered Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota, but it was a pretty cloudy day. The last eclipse most people remember seeing was on March 3rd, 1970. The path of totality (or where the moon fully covers the sun) traveled up the Eastern seaboard of the United States, from Florida through Virginia.

If you’re reading this and lamenting the fact that you won’t be in the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse, never fear. There’s another total solar eclipse occurring in the US on April 8th, 2024. (This explains why so many of us are amused that people have taken to calling this “The Eclipse of the Century” and “The Great American Eclipse. No, it’s really not.) It will cut a narrower arc across the country, traveling from Texas to New Hampshire. This will be just as spectacular of an event, and totality will last a bit longer that time around (four minutes at its peak). After that, you’ll have to wait until 2045 for the next one to hit the US.

If you’re going to miss the 2024 eclipse as well but still want to see one, you’ll have to travel to the middle of the Pacific Ocean (July 2nd, 2019), Chile and Argentina (December 14th, 2020), or Antarctica (December 4th, 2021). After that, the next major total eclipse to travel over land will be on August 2nd, 2027, mainly over northern Africa.

If you aren’t in the path of totality, You may be able to view a partial eclipse from where you are (with proper glasses and filters, of course) or you can follow a livestream from one of many sources. The nonstop chatter surrounding the eclipse is a bit annoying, but even if the hype has made you jaded, it’s not worth missing this genuinely cool event.