Facebook, Google Fight Australian News

1. Good Monday Morning

It’s February 22nd. NASA holds a briefing today at 2 p.m. ET to share new images and video from Mars. Watch live here.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,150 words — about a 4 minute read.

  2. News To Know Now

a) “How long can we get away with the reach overestimation?” asks a Facebook employee in an newly unsealed email in a class action suit against the company. The documents allege that COO Sheryl Sandberg knew about the problems for years. (TechCrunch)

b) After extensive media coverage regarding Gorilla Glue’s misuse, searches on Amazon and Google for this adhesive jumped dramatically. Tessica Brown mistakenly used Gorilla Glue as a hair styling product after assuming she could simply wash it out. A cosmetic surgeon donated  a procedure worth $12,000 to remove the product from her scalp–the sort of living experiment the brand would never dare attempt. Gorilla Glue spent $411 on advertising in the first half of February (Ad Age-paywall)

c) Google has removed The Great Suspender browser memory management program from its Chrome Extensions store after learning that it spread malware following its acquisition by an unknown company. That malware tracked user behavior and executed code from remote servers. If you have not uninstalled it yet, you should. A free alternative with good transparency is “The Marvellous Suspender.” (Bleeping Computer)

3. COVID-19 Tech News

Great Trackers

Overview — Johns Hopkins
Community Mobility — Google
Vaccine Distribution — Washington Post
Risk Calculator — Brown

NEW: New York Times tracker that allows you to customize a daily email with multiple cities and towns that you’re monitoring: Click here for more.

Coronavirus & Tech News

Alexa Can Find Closest COVID-19 Test Site — CNBC
How to Buy a Real N95 mask Online — The New York Times
Misleading COVID Vaccine Posts Easy to Find on Facebook — CNN
Researchers Use AI to Repurpose Drugs for COVID-19 — Healthcare IT News
Vaccine Scams Spread Under Facebook and Telegram — Wired
Zip line Delivering COVID Vaccines by Drone In Nigeria — Reuters

4. Search Engine News

Google is warning that it will take action against websites that make bait and switch pricing claims for its shopping ads. That sounds unremarkable, but becomes more intriguing as Google continues to create and enhance your website’s Google My Business listings with your website’s data. Don’t forget that Google My Business has long been positioned as additional search information that the website provides. SEO Roundtable has coverage

Google will display the origin of this information. Data from Wikipedia will be used, but Google says it will also use information such as how long ago the company first began indexing the website. The “About This Result” menu item can be chosen from the search results menu. Here is an example from our website.

5. In The Spotlight — Facebook’s Australia Ban

Last month, we told you that Google threatened to remove its search engiine from Australia over proposed legislation that would require payment to news publishers when their stories appeared in search results. The European Union has also advocated that technology companies pay for information that its services rely upon.

Google reached a deal this month with Australian content publisher News Corp for the use of its content in Australia, the U.S., and the U.K. The deal runs for three years and is the culmination of a series of smaller deals Google completed with other Australian media companies.

Facebook blocked all links to Australian news media sources within one day. Below is the message Facebook posts when an Australian news source is linked from the U.S.

In Australia, the ban also covers the other way. That means Australian Facebook users can’t share international or Australian news links. The content on the Facebook pages of those entities are essentially erased. That includes Murdoch-owned News Corp as well as local weekly newspapers and radio stations.

Google’s model is likely to be embraced by other national governments. Google is developing a prototype in France that will pay $76 million over three years to 121 French news organizations. One difference is the French law was already on the books. Another very significant difference is the French government’s threat that delisting French news sites would be considered anti-competitive behavior.

Both companies will now face the repercussions of these sudden announcements. France’s population is roughly equal to that of Texas and California combined. Australia’s population is a little bigger than New York’s. How will both companies react if publishers start to line up for their payments in populous countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and India?

Bigger still: This is for news media. Both sites incorporate content from a variety of sources, and a lot of businesses will want to be compensated. That was a far-fetched notion just one month ago.

6. Debunked — There’s Been No Tax Increase

Advocacy groups have been criticized for spreading inflammatory language that incorrectly suggests that President Biden has unilaterally increased capital gains and inheritance taxes.

Things got bad enough for Poynter’s PolitiFact to write about it.

7. Following Up — Google Ethicists

After Google fired one of the two leads of its Ethical AI team, news broke that Google has now fired Meg Mitchell, the second lead that it had suspended. Google executives will join Facebook and Twitter executives in testifying at a House Commerce committee hearing next month.  Expect plenty of questions about this topic.

We’ve also told you about the Solar Winds campaign that has a threat profile too big to overstate. A Biden administration cybersecurity official confirmed last week that the networks of nine federal agencies and one hundred private organizations have been compromised. Dark Reading has great continuing coverage.

8. Protip — The iPhone’s hidden menus

CNBC has a handy feature about using different iPhone menus and gestures like an Apple pro. It’s a great refresher for features you may not use or if one of those new phones found their way home to you during the holidays.

Screening Room – Strong Roots

Strong Roots has assembled one of the funniest diet commercials in quite some time. Bonus: they did it all with stock video footage.

10. Coffee Break – Metallica Interruptus (by lullabies!)

Here’s your quick primer: Metallica sued Napster over allowing file sharing of music files about one million years ago in the year 2000. The case was huge and delayed the advent of legal streaming services for years. One result was that streaming services like YouTube and Twitch have automated systems in place to ensure copyrighted material is not played live.

Imagine Metallica’s surprise this weekend when their livestreamed concert was quickly overridden by Twitch’s automated systems and replaced with stock audio bell sounds. You have to see it to believe it.

11. Sign of the Times – More Australian News

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