Good Monday morning. It’s May 13th. Look for a highly publicized op-ed by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes to continue attracting attention this week. Hughes is calling for a Facebook breakup…by the FTC. He also wants a new federal agency to be formed to regulate online industry. A video of the op-ed’s highlights is below.

Today’s Spotlight takes about 4 minutes to read

Hughes proposes a Facebook breakup in this op-ed video

1. News to Know Now

  • Google Search and Maps will soon offer an incognito mode that blocks Google from receiving information about searches and locations you look for. That’s nice, but that information is still available to your Internet provider if you’re at home or on your phone or to your employer. Remember that anyone providing you Internet service can see what you access using that service.

  • A coalition of privacy groups have filed an FTC complaint over Amazon’s privacy practices regarding the Echo Dot smart speaker for kids. Consumer Reports confirmed that parents could not delete information their children provided to the device. Read their excellent coverage.

2.  Passwords, Facial Recognition & Privacy

One step closer to a world without passwords is what Microsoft Group Manager Yogesh Mehta wrote last week describing how Microsoft Windows 10 users can now use Windows Hello, a mobile phone, or security key when signing into sites and apps that previously required a password. 

Plenty of computing devices accept biometric information instead of passwords. My phone and probably yours will unlock via iris recognition, face recognition or a fingerprint match. And I’ve set things up online to require a separate physical security key (mine is from Yubico—there are others) before accessing sensitive sites or apps.

A big problem with biometrics is that they exist as data throughout the digital world. That seems unsafe  But it’s more secure than the same passwords researchers tell us keep showing up in data breaches. Cyber security researcher Troy Hunt says after each breach that he sees the “same old passwords” like 123456 and password. An index fingerprint match is much more secure for those people.

Journalist MacKenzie Fegan called attention to biometric data already being used in everyday transactions when she boarded a JetBlue flight by looking into a camera instead of her boarding pass scanned or her passport viewed. She engaged in a Twitter conversation with JetBlue where the company admitted that biometric data was sent by the federal government to a Customs and Border Protection database controlling access to the flight. Fegan didn’t separately consent to any of this, and as she wrote.

Digital privacy and security confounds experts too. ArsTechnica is reporting that a hacker collective with ties to the U.S. and Russia is selling source code and network access to three antivirus companies. The group published “strong evidence of the validity of its claims.”  You’re likely not being individually targeted by an international hacker collective, but any organization or individual can be compromised when enough resources are arrayed against it.

3.  Facebook  (Video), Google (Audio) Ranking News

Following their individual developer conferences, Google and Facebook announced new algorithm guidance for anyone whose organization publishes information online.

Hailing “a step toward making audio a first-class citizen across Google“, the company announced that users could search for and play podcasts directly in Google Search.  Google later agreed that it would be playing the audio file as uploaded by the podcaster without edits or excerpts.

Facebook, meanwhile, said that they will update algorithms to “further prioritize” original videos. They stressed past guidance such as successful videos that are at least three minutes long and average more than one minute of viewing. They also continue stressing the notion of original video. 

You’ve undoubtedly seen purported videos on Facebook that are only still images with a tiny bit of motion or short videos that loops several times. Those are likely posted by people trying to game the algorithm, and Facebook promises swift retribution for pages and providers who do this. 

4. Also in the Spotlight

  • Streamer Roku announced blockbuster financial results. The company now has nearly 30 million accounts (!) with average-revenue-per-user (ARPU) of $19.06. Year-over-year account growth was 40% and gross profit was up 60%.  Do not ignore Roku’s platform.

  • Hertz sued Accenture for $32 million in website and mobile app development fees. Ever had a tech project get out of hand? So did Hertz, and it’s a scary object lesson.  Read the mind-boggling story at The Register.

  • Facebook is tightening up ad policies for financial services, specifically blockchain, cryptocurrency, and contracts-for-difference devices. (Search Engine Journal)

5. Great Data

Creating reports about topical trends that include scientific data is tough because the presentation, not the footnotes, should convey the data. Data visualization specialist Lindsay Betzendahl created a nifty infographic that makes sense out of the current measles crisis related to vaccinations. 

She managed to incorporate definitions and facts in an engaging way next to trends and a timeline. It’s a great piece of work that helps explain the situation in today’s news and provides important context.

See The Comeback of a Supposedly Eradicated Virus

6. Coffee Break

One of the winners being honored at today’s Webby Awards are the creators of Below the Surface. A ten year metro line project in Amsterdam allowed archaeologists  to excavate the River Amstel. They cataloged and then displayed online more than 700,000 items. Some were decades old and some were centuries old.

Go exploring in the riverbed.

Good Monday morning. It’s May 6th. Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is a day we choose to celebrate all mothers, including the mothers without children. NPR’s Michel Martin called them “special envoy mothers” 10 years ago. These women are not childless or child free, she wrote, but mothers without portfolio, mothers at heart who help raise everyone’s children.

Today’s Spotlight takes about 3 minutes to read.

1. News to Know Now

Google reporting last week experienced multiple problems. At one point on May 2nd, the data from the past two days was suspect. As of late Saturday night, Google’s latest comment was “we are actively working working on correcting data from 12:01 a.m. on May 1 to 4:00 a.m. on May 2 [PDT].” 

We always use two analytics packages for exactly these reasons. This particular issue deals with Google Ads reporting, but we’ve seen Google Analytics issues in the past too. More commonplace is an internal error or typo at an organization that stops an analytics program from collecting data.

CLIENTS: Your Monday morning reports were sent. We will distribute an update this week when Google reports the ad data has been fixed.

Facebook has banned people who post extreme content or hate-related material to large audiences. The ban was already in effect for several people, but this action also removed their accounts from Facebook-owned Instagram. Whether anyone agrees with the people who were banned is irrelevant since companies like Facebook aren’t required to provide free speech protections to users. 

2.  Twitter, Amazon Rolling Out Spanish Resources

Five percent of the world’s largest websites are published in Spanish–more than any other language except English, Russian, and German. Here in the U.S., nearly 50% of Americans speak Spanish, and some states like New Mexico are rapidly approaching 50% Latinx population. In fact, 47 million U.S. citizens are Hispanic.

Twitter announced a partnership this week with Univision to better serve that community.  Twitter has been available in a Spanish interface for more than 10 years, but this programming allows the social media platform to specifically cover the community’s culture.  Univision’s Spanish-language news, sports, and entertainment content will be available as will some video programming. 

Speaking in Spanish (and German and Japanese) is old hat for Amazon’s Alexa, but there was a catch to changing her native language. Unless you also spoke that language or even in that accent, the device might have trouble understanding you.

Now Amazon is testing a U.S. Spanish-language interface for Alexa before rolling out Spanish language support in the U.S. later this year. You can read the announcement at Amazon’s developer website if you know how to read Spanish.

Your organization should be having conversations about whether Spanish resources like a website or social media channels are appropriate. Professional translators are needed for this type of initiative to work. Automated translation is a marvelous way to capture the gist of what is someone is saying, but there are too many nuances involved in language to rely on automation.

We pay careful attention to language in search engine optimization efforts. Consider issues like these in our native language:

  1. A bat is what a baseball player uses to hit a ball or that flying creature you sometimes see at night.
  2. If you do see one of those flying bats, your dog may bark at the sky even if your dog is standing next to a tree covered in bark.
  3. Don’t get us started on homophones like two, too, and to or the Internet grammarian’s favorite: your and you’re.

Hire a translator or people with real fluency.

3. In the Spotlight

  • Web ticketing service Eventbrite had revenue growth but tripled its operating loss in Q1. Financials and analysis at Music Business Worldwide.

  • Google has introduced auto-delete controls for Location History and your Google data. You get to Google Activity Controls at this link. Carefully read before making changes.

  • Four U.S. Senators are asking the IRS and Federal Trade Commission to investigate H&R Block and Turbo Tax-maker Intuit after reports surfaced that the companies hid their free options for low-income people.  We told you about this last week, and you can get caught up with CNBC’s Friday coverage.