California Privacy Law Now Enforced – Spotlight #347

Good Monday morning. It’s July 13th. The streaming wars get busier on Wednesday when NBC’s Peacock launches with free and paid versions. To stay on top of Netflix and Amazon streaming, sign up for Sue’s free Movie Rewind newsletter

Today’s Spotlight is 1,378 words, about a 5 minute read.

1. News to Know Now

a. The new California privacy regulations are now being enforced. For-profit entities that have any California customers are required to comply if their total annual revenue exceeds $25 million or if they buy, sell, or share data from 50,000 records (California individuals or devices). And yes, that’s why all the new and updated cookie notices.Talk with us if you need more info.

b. Uber’s $2.6 billion acquisition of food delivery rival Postmates is the second time that the U.S. food delivery market has shrunk in the last 30 days. Uber and Grub Hub were in talks until GH was acquired by Just Eat Takeaway, Europe’s biggest delivery company. Uber is also testing a new grocery delivery service in several countries including Brazil and Canada. In an even more direct threat to Amazon, Walmart announced that it will offer a Prime-like membership program that offers similar pricing and includes grocery delivery.

c. Facebook’s civil rights auditors criticized the company’s performance in a widely-published report. Among the biggest issues was the lack of an infrastructure to specifically address civil rights issues as well as the company’s decision to leave in place multiple posts by President Donald Trump that encouraged voter suppression and that included hate speech and threats of violence. Some issues, such as new advertiser blocks on using race to advertise for credit, jobs, or housing were credited as new successes. You can read the whole report here.

2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News

Great Trackers
Johns Hopkins — the gold standard
Florida data — Unofficial, but great data and presentation

NEW:  COVID-19 Exit Strategy – non partisan tracking of state progress
NEW: COVID Risk Levels – county-level map from Harvard

Tech News

Anti-mask Facebook Groups Rife with Dangerous Misinformation – MMFA
Five Google Trends Charts Showing COVID-19 Impact – Search Engine Watch
Many Americans See Exaggeration, Conspiracy in COVID-19 News – Pew
U.S. Interest in Coronavirus Waning – Statista

Heads-up, Teachers, Doctors, and NursesHere is a Lifehacker piece published Friday explaining how to cut 25% from your AT&T Wireless bill. Those professions were added to a discount program AT&T already offers to first responders, military members, and veterans.

3. Search Engine Optimization News

You are going to hear the phrase “Web Vitals” a lot over the next year as marketers focus on what Google now says are “essential metrics for a healthy site.” The grouping and placement within the Google Search Console are a new flashing neon sign that Google will be focusing more on user experience. That’s previously been defined as mobile accessibility and website speed.

The definition includes whether the display “shifts” as items are loaded and two speed metrics calculated when a page first appears and the time at which visitors can interact with the page. 

The times are blazing fast. Google says that a good load speed is 2.5 seconds and that a website needs improvement at more than 4 seconds. The time to interact with a site or not have it shift is measured in tenth of a second increments. At 0.3 seconds, a website’s performance is considered poor for the latter two metrics.

Google just published a beta version of a new WordPress plugin called “Visual Stories” that allows websites to create very fast social media-like stories on their website. (Techspeak explanation: tappable stories using AMP. Use video at 24 fps or horizontal images at 828×1792. You can download the plugin at GitHub and send your creatives to get story building tools at this AMP page.)

Google also announced that the Shopping tab pages in search results will now consist primarily of free listings instead of the paid-only listings that replaced the original free listings back in 2012. We can help retailers get their products listed there and optimized so that you can compete against national giants.

There are also great new predictive analytics tools that Google is making available free within Google Analytics. We’ve been upgrading and testing the new models available and will publish the results soon.

Remember: search success in 2020 is not about ranking. Success is how many times people interested in your product or service are influenced to visit your website via search. 

4. Also in the Spotlight — Facebook Shuts Boogaloo Groups

You may have heard of the far-right boogaloo groups that take their name from a nearly forty year old break dancing movie and sometimes wear goofy Hawaiian shirts while carrying guns.

The group isn’t funny or nice. The Southern Poverty Law Center traces the movement back to 2012 and describes them as a subculture within the antigovernment Patriot movement. Like the so-called anti-fascist movement, there is no central organization or movement leader. 

The SPLC traces the arrests of at least seven adherents for weapons and conspiracy charges in Nevada, Texas, Colorado, and Ohio to the movement. Online groups in Virginia and Michigan called for members to rally around President Donald Trump’s message to liberate those states and Minnesota. Several weeks after the most recent post by SPLC, Facebook acted and removed hundreds of individual accounts, pages, and groups that were found to be espousing the movement’s calls for Civil War that are rooted in far right extremism and white nationalism.


The Boogaloo Started as a Racist Meme — SPLC Hatewatch
‘Boogaloo’ Believers Think a Civil War Is Coming — The Trace and The Informant (both newsletters are excellent labors of love)
Facebook Removes Hundreds for Promoting Violence — The Washington Post

5. Following Up: Amazon Third Party Sellers Must Disclose Name & Address

We’ve written about how items “sold and shipped from Amazon” may not adhere to the company’s own policies for sale such as pill presses that can counterfeit drugs and weapons accessories.

The company informed third party sellers last week that they will be required to disclose their business name and address on their Amazon profiles in the future.

CNBC has the story here.

6. Debugging:  “E-Verify’s SSNLock is Nothing of the Sort”

We view Brian Krebs as the best security journalist working today. In this must-read article, he eviscerates the Department of Homeland Security’s my-Everify website. Along the way, he explains a bit about credit freeze limitations and knowledge based authentication (what’s your mother’s maiden name-style questions).

Read along with his journey. It’s a fast, informative story.

7. ProTip: 5 Zoom Tools

You might know that you can press-and-hold your space bar to temporarily talk with a muted mic during a Zoom conference, but did you know that you could make annotations on someone else’s document or how to queue external callers in a waiting room?

This Fast Company article will improve your Zoom game.

8. Great Data: People’s Choice Paths

Montgomery County, Maryland, officials say that they want to help improve public safety by focusing on the way people actually travel on foot. 

Their description:  We’ve all seen and used pathways in our travels that are not sidewalks, are not trails, and may not even be official. Called “People’s Choice” paths, “desire lines”, “goat trails”, and many other names, these shortcuts help pedestrians get where we need to go as directly as possible.

To get the story straight from residents, they’ve built a web portal using maps and are asking for information about walking shortcuts people use to be drawn on those maps.

It’s brilliant. Have a look here.

Screening Room: Applebee’s Taps Nostalgia

Applebee’s tapped John Sebastian’s “Welcome Back” as a theme song for its new spot featuring the return of something called an Irresist-A-Bowl.  In a COVID-19 world, the ad mentions delivery and to-go orders as a comforting voice welcomes America and says it’s good to see us again. Expect more of this messaging from major brands for the next three to six months.

10. Coffee Break: Sydmar Lodge Care Home & Classic Rock Albums

A nursing home near London has been on lockdown for four months. Their residents and caregivers have handled the isolation well and recreated a baker’s dozen famous album covers from acts like The Clash, Elvis, Madonna, and Taylor Swift. 

They’re here. I love them all.

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