Millions of School-Aged Kids Lack Broadband or Internet Access

Good Monday morning. It’s May 11th. The House of Representatives returns to Washington this week, all three federal government branches are in session. They appear to be hypervigilant about perception and behaving accordingly. Don’t let your workplace be like that. Consider the White House, where key leaders are said to be self-isolating amid daily testing. Your employees, partners, and customers will remember how you behaved during this crisis.

Reach out to George if you need to brainstorm about your organization updating its presence online. Now more than ever, we need to all work together and support each other.

We’ve also created new pricing for small businesses who need help maintaining their online presence on websites, email, and social media.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,387 words, about a 5 minute read.

1. News to Know Now

a. Pinterest grew revenue 35% and its user base 26%, but missed its earnings-per-share by 11% and Wall Street hammered the stock. That’s the business headline but pay attention to the number of monthly active users (MAU). The social media company is up to 367 million monthly users. They are an attractive advertising mix of higher income women who skew younger than Facebook and wealthier than Instagram.

b. Pinterest was one of the companies with an app that stopped working last week. An error in the login code software used by many iOS apps and published by Facebook caused Pinterest, Spotify, TikTok, and others to stop working. The problem developed early Wednesday evening and affected the end of the business day in western states.

c. Automaker Tesla is facing questions about privacy this week after a self-described tinkerer bought used video displays from the company and was able to retrieve private information from them. The units were apparently sold after being removed at a Tesla service center and included synced contact lists, calendars, and passwords. Read the story at Ars Technica.

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News

Trackers

Covidly — my go-to
Our World in Data — Oxford nonprofit — also excellent
Corona Shutdown — animated map showing stats by county
Covid Trends — interactive charts 

Tech News

UPS & CVS expanding drone delivery in Florida
Airbnb has new cleaning protocols & 24 hour buffer time
Refugees at camp in Jordan built delivery robot from Lego kit
Snapchat users and engagement increase
Help Main Street Web App shows 120K local businesses to support

3. Search Engine Optimization News

Google is now showing search suggestions that are increasingly more reliant on what it calls searcher intent. One prevalent example involves combining a prior search with a current search so that they’re both presented as a form of narrowing your request. Here’s that flow:

1. A user searches for streaming services.
2. A user searches for Disney.
3. Google suggests “based on your recent activity” that you try searching for “Disney streaming”

It’s nuanced and possibly something that improves website engagement. Search Engine Land has screenshots and more information.

Google also announced a new variant of its Google Trends data called Rising Retail Categories. It’s a spectacular look at weekly, monthly, or yearly data broken down by country. Users see the increase in the top trending categories, state-by-state comparisons, and the top searches in each. 

Last week’s big searches had to do with surprisingly cold weather (landscape fabric) and Mother’s Day (candy, chocolate, flowers, and cupcakes). The biggest terms for the last month: golf push carts, sprinkler valves, and above ground pools. In fourth place was an entry I’ve never seen in this level of search data: sneeze guards for desks and counters.

Google reported last week that it has blocked “tens of millions of coronavirus-related adsover the past few months for policy violations.” Most of that work is done by automated systems, but Sue and I can assure you that ads and the content they appear with are also manually flagged.

Sometimes knowing the rules may not be enough. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land describes how LinkedIn mistakenly sent Google instructions to block its website. Being a part of Big Tech, LinkedIn was restored in Google after about ten hours. This search engine stuff is not for the faint of heart. Google’s John Mueller never referenced LinkedIn but alluded to the problem when giving the search world a PSA about what not to do.

4. Also in the Spotlight — Millions of School Kids Can’t Access Broadband

The world has done amazing work by sheltering in place, moving to teleworking and remote services, and even tried to scale K-12 distance learning.

Most educators I’ve spoken with knew that the process would be daunting. About one-third of Dallas families don’t have home Internet according to a recent Dallas Morning News article about the digital divide. Other reporting describes teachers who don’t have access parking outside businesses that do and using their broadband.

A 2018 Microsoft study estimates that more than 160 million Americans do not use the Internet at broadband speed. The study also links GDP and access to broadband. And Microsoft, which has oodles of actual user data, points out that government estimates used by schools may be wrong.

In rural Ferry County in Washington, the FCC reports that 100% of residents have access to broadband. County officials didn’t agree and said that individuals may have access through their workplace. When Microsoft looked at its data, they found that only 2% of the county was using broadband.

The COVID-19 crisis is shining a spotlight on data vagaries. With almost every state closing its schools, the crisis is real, and questions remain about how to ensure that all schoolchildren have the same opportunity to learn.

5. Following Up: Facebook’s Oversight Board

We’ve told you for months that Facebook wanted to create a content oversight board that would take the focus off its business executives when the company grapples with difficult problems surrounding the site’s content.

The board’s first 20 members have been announced and include a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, a former Danish prime minister, and a slew of professors, editors, and activists. 

There is a lot of hype around the statement that this soon-to-be 40 person board can overrule the business leaders on issues like hate speech. 

Politico has coverage.

6. Debugging: Plandemic Debunked

A controversial twenty-six minute video has been debunked by almost all fact check organizations and media companies ranging from Poynter, Snopes, and FactCheck to USA Today, The Washington Post, and Facebook.

Comments range from “filled with falsehoods” to “could lead to imminent harm.” 

Read Poynter’s debunking of the whole thing here.

6. Debugging: Plandemic Debunked

A controversial twenty-six minute video has been debunked by almost all fact check organizations and media companies ranging from Poynter, Snopes, and FactCheck to USA Today, The Washington Post, and Facebook.

Comments range from “filled with falsehoods” to “could lead to imminent harm.” 

Read Poynter’s debunking of the whole thing here.

7. ProTip: Control Who Sees Your Social Media

Take some of that commuting time that you’re hopefully saving and ensure that your social media privacy settings are configured the way that you want.

Here are 12 guidelines and links to everything that you need.

8. Great Data: Wealth Shown to Scale

We can appreciate great data storytelling without agreeing with the story. The Wealth Shown to Scale site helps create context around the vast differences between thousands, millions, billions, and trillions. Stick with it — not for the messaging but the way that data and visuals are combined in the story.

Swipe on phones and use a computer’s right cursor key.

9. Screening Room: Reddit

You can see this week’s video at Ad Age because it’s still prerelease. 

You know all those cute and crazy things you’ve seen online since the pandemic started? Reddit would like to remind you that’s their specialty.

Reddit thanks the Idiots and Heroes.

10. Coffee Break: Working from Home with Alexis

In 45 seconds, Alexis summarizes the memorable part of video conferences while working from home.

The video is on Twitter. Be sure to turn on your sound.

Here are three ways that we can help you:

1. Get a free SEO audit on our website.

2  Have a simple, fact-based question about digital marketing? Reply & ask George for free.

3. If your organization needs help with maintenance, search, social media, or advertising, have a look at what we do.

See you Monday.

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