5 min read

Weekly Digest of Must-Read Articles (1.11)

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 27, 2019
May 29, 2024

Every week we read tons of articles, browse through a variety of editorials and long reads to find the 10 most interesting pieces you can’t miss on any occasion. This week you’ll find out how to react if your systems are failing, why local search is no longer a specialized activity and what Twitter tries to warn us about the government’s demands for user data. Read all of this and more in our new weekly digest of 10 articles we’d like you to like. 

Apple TV+ Meets Rivals on Originals, But Lack of Back Catalog Is Big Omission. — Bloomberg

“Apple Inc. launches its TV+ original video streaming service Friday, ending years of anticipation about the company’s next act in television. But it will lack what many consumers want: a giant library of their favorite movies and shows. 

Over the past decade, the iPhone maker has explored building its own TV set, buying major content firms like Time Warner and partnering with cable companies on new TV set-top boxes. Instead, it landed on a combination of a video aggregation app, on-demand access to pay-TV channels like HBO and Starz and a $4.99 monthly subscription service of original movies and television shows.

The subscription service will be available on millions of iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple TV boxes in 100 countries beginning Friday, just days ahead of Disney+ and months before comparable services from Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. Apple TV+ is currently focused entirely on original content, but its lack of a library of older fan favorites puts the service behind its rivals.” Read the article.

Why a Top Content Moderation Company Quit the Business Instead of Fixing Its Problems. — The Verge

“Yesterday, as I tried to sort through Twitter’s decision to ban political ads, I got a tantalizing tip from a new source. Cognizant, the professional services company I have spent much of this year investigating over the dire conditions of its workplaces, was exiting the content moderation businesses.

To my surprise, the tip turned out to be true. The company announced it in an earnings call on Wednesday, without mentioning the names of Facebook, Google, or any of its other clients. Later that day, Facebook provided me with a statement from Arun Chandra, the company’s vice president of scaled operations.

‘We respect Cognizant’s decision to exit some of its content review services for social media platforms,” Chandra said. “Their content reviewers have been invaluable in keeping our platforms safe — and we’ll work with our partners during this transition to ensure there’s no impact on our ability to review content and keep people safe.’ How did we get here?” Read the article. 

The Fight Against Financial Advertisers Using Facebook for Digital Redlining. — The Quartz

“Imagine you’re walking down your city’s main street. If you’re 35 years old, there are cafes, shops, and banks. But if you’re 56 years old, the banks are missing.

This could happen on the digital main street, where a handful of big tech companies provide the main platforms for finding information. As bank branches close down and online personal finance takes over, it’s becoming more difficult to see if groups of people are being excluded from financial opportunities in the digital world, even though US federal law forbids discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, national origin, and marital status.

Facebook is one of the internet’s main streets. Together with parameters set out by marketers, its targeting tools and algorithms determine which job and financial ads millions of people see. Earlier this year, the social network settled lawsuits with civil rights advocates alleging ad discrimination, and it has been overhauling a system called Lookalike Audiences as it applies to job, housing, and credit advertising. Yesterday, Facebook was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging age and gender discrimination in the financial ads it serves.” Read the article.

How You React When Your Systems Fail May Define Your Business. — Tech Crunch

“Just around 9:45 a.m. Pacific Time on February 28, 2017, websites like Slack, Business Insider, Quora and other well-known destinations became inaccessible. For millions of people, the internet itself seemed broken.

It turned out that Amazon Web Services was having a massive outage involving S3 storage in its Northern Virginia datacenter, a problem that created a cascading impact and culminated in an outage that lasted four agonizing hours.

Amazon eventually figured it out, but you can only imagine how stressful it might have been for the technical teams who spent hours tracking down the cause of the outage so they could restore service. A few days later, the company issued a public post-mortem explaining what went wrong and which steps they had taken to make sure that particular problem didn’t happen again. Most companies try to anticipate these types of situations and take steps to keep them from ever happening. In fact, Netflix came up with the notion of chaos engineering, where systems are tested for weaknesses before they turn into outages.” Read the article.

Legislation Would Force Google and Rivals to Disclose Search Algorithms. — The Wall Street Journal

“Senate lawmakers proposed bipartisan legislation that would require search engines to disclose the algorithms they use in ranking internet searches and give consumers an option for unfiltered searches.

Search engines such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit use a variety of measures to filter results for individual searches, such as the user’s browsing activity, search history and geographical location.” Read the article.

Now More Than Ever, Local Strategy Differs by Vertical. — Street Fight

“From a consumer perspective, local search is no longer a specialized activity. We use local search channels for every conceivable purpose as long as it involves a store, service provider, government organization, landmark, or anything else that exists at a nearby location. Consumer search behavior, as a new Brandify survey will soon discuss in detail, is spread across a broad range of verticals from the typical “traveler’s search” verticals like restaurants and gas stations to the needs we all seek to fill at various times: professional services, home repair, car dealers, healthcare, hotels, and many other categories. According to recent research from Forrester, half of all US sales are affected by digital, and we’ve known for a while that virtually all US adults use digital tools when they need information about local businesses. 

But if search behavior is increasingly horizontal in nature, the search experience itself is growing more fragmented and verticalized. This matters more to brands and marketers than it probably does to consumers, who are likely to focus on whether a site or app answered their question, not whether all questions are answered in precisely the same way. Marketers must learn how to serve the needs of these consumers with sometimes radically different strategies depending on the industry of the client.” Read the article. 

A Cybersecurity Firm’s Sharp Rise and Stunning Collapse. — The New Yorker

“Before Robert Boback got into the field of cybersecurity, he was a practicing chiropractor in the town of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, twelve miles northwest of Pittsburgh. He was also selling used cars on eBay and flipping houses purchased at police auctions. The decision to branch out into computers came in 2003, after he watched a “60 Minutes” report by Lesley Stahl about pirated movies. For years, while digital piracy was devastating the music industry, Hollywood had largely been spared; limitations on bandwidth curtailed the online trade in movies. But this was changing, Stahl noted: “The people running America’s movie studios know that if they don’t do something, fast, they could be in the same boat as the record companies.”

Boback was thirty-two years old, with a Norman Rockwell haircut and a quick, smooth, entrepreneurial manner. Growing up amid the collapsing steel industry, he had dreamed of making it big, hanging posters of high-priced cars—a Lamborghini, a Porsche—on his bedroom wall and telling himself that they would one day be his. After high school, he trained to be a commercial pilot, imagining a secure, even glamorous, life style—but then the airline industry began laying off pilots, and he switched to chiropractic, inspired by a well-off practitioner his family knew.” Read the article.

Twitter Says Government Demands for User Data Continue to Rise. — Tech Crunch

“Twitter says the number of government demands for user data are at a record high.

In its latest transparency report covering the six months between January and June, the social media giant said it received 7,300 demands for user data, up by 6% a year earlier, but that the number of accounts affected are down by 25%.

The company turned over some account data in just less than half of all cases.

U.S. government agencies requested the most data from the company during the period, filing 2,120 demands for 4,150 accounts — accounting for about one-third of all demands. Japan was trailing behind with 1,742 demands for 2,445 accounts.” Read the article.

How Deep Sleep May Help the Brain Clear Alzheimer's Toxins. — NPR

“The brain waves generated during deep sleep appear to trigger a cleaning system in the brain that protects it against Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Electrical signals known as slow waves appear just before a pulse of fluid washes through the brain, presumably removing toxins associated with Alzheimer's, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science.

The finding could help explain a puzzling link between sleep and Alzheimer's, says Laura Lewis, an author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Boston University.” Read the article. 

To Reduce Cookie Reliance, Immediate Media Tests New Way to Share Data Directly With Advertisers. — Digiday

“Magazine group Immediate Media is exploring new ways for advertisers to identify target audiences across its portfolio, without relying on third-party cookies, which are under continuous regulatory and browser pressures.

The publisher, home to titles like Radio Times, Top Gear magazine and BBC Good Food, has agreed to make its first-party data available for advertisers to view via a neutral platform that doesn’t share the information anywhere else.

Through a dashboard, advertisers can shop for their target audiences across different publishers by injecting their own customer data into the platform, which will then overlay the data with a publisher’s to find matches.” Read the article.

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