Friday round-up: A week in tech

YouTube

World dominance firm Google has pledged to hire 10,000 new employees to weed YouTube of extremist videos – which doesn’t sound like a particularly inspiring job, but we’ve all got to make a living, haven’t we.

Demented groups such as Isis have seized upon the digital universe to spread their murderous agenda, recruit fresh dolts, and boast about how good they are at killing innocent people – and YouTube has become one of the more notorious outlets for the heinous gibberish.

And this won’t do at all, finally. Writing this week, YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said that the site was being exploited by those whose aim is to ‘mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm,’ and claimed that 150,000 such videos had been removed since June.

Apparently, YouTube has been using ‘computer-learning’ tech – which, I assume, means artificial intelligence (AI) – to track extremism on the network.

Whether or not the plans to sweep YouTube of its more repulsive content will include the work of groups such as Britain First, who gained world-wide fame last month after President Donald Trump retweeted three of their Muslim-demonising propaganda videos, remains to be seen.

Happy 2017, internet! What a terrific mess.

***

The not especially interesting row between Google and Amazon has taken another turn, and it’s still not that interesting – but I’ll plough on anyway because the news is the news.

From the start of 2018, Google will prevent access to YouTube through Amazon’s Fire TV devices, following its move to block the service from Echo units earlier in the year.

And now we know a bit more about the cause of the squabble: Amazon refuses to stock Google products that are similar to things it makes and sells; thus Google is retaliating.

All the way back in 2015, the online retailer withdrew Google’s Chromecast and audio dongle from its warehouse shelves – because they directly competed with its own products.

And last month, Amazon withdrew the search giant’s Nest smart home security kit from its listings, too, as it, I strongly suspect, builds a comparable product.

Many in the commentariat have voiced alarm that the tit-for-tat quarrel will only harm consumers – but, for heaven’s sake, surely there are more firms in this big wide world than Google and Amazon to choose from? There are, aren’t there? I mean, it would be senseless if those two had nearly 100% market dominance in their respective fields, wouldn’t it? We wouldn’t let that happen, would we? I mean, that would be a bit mad, wouldn’t it?

***

Jeremy Hunt pulled off something unique this week: he managed to say something lots of people agreed with and found reasonable.

The widely-admired health secretary took to Twitter to slam Facebook’s launch of a messaging service for children.

Much, no doubt, to the social media network’s chagrin, those aged under 13 are prohibited from joining Facebook, and are therefore out of the clutches of the firm’s relentless advertising strategy. The new app will help to prepare the very young for the lifetime of social media monotony that awaits them.

But Hunt wasn’t impressed, tweeting: ‘Not sure this is the right direction at all. Facebook told me they would come back with ideas to PREVENT underage use of their product, but instead they are actively targeting younger children. Stay away from my kids please Facebook and act responsibly!’

Wise words. Anyway, Messenger Kids is a simplified version of the already pretty simple Messenger that will allow children to send each other texts and pictures, take part in video chats, and everything else that can prevent the terror of going outside and learning essential social skills in face-to-face situations.

Friday round-up: A week in tech

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