Good Monday morning. It’s March 30th.
Thirty more days minimum. Pray if you pray. Help others however you can. Be kind to each other. This is our generation’s time to pull together in a fight where every single person has a role. Please take care of each other.
Reach out to George if you need to brainstorm about your organization doing new things in a digital way. We’ve already had these conversations with clients and friends. Now more than ever, we need to all work together and support each other.
Today’s Spotlight is 1,339 words, about a 5 minute read.
1. News to Know Now
a. Pinterest’s “Verified Merchant” designation is now available to all organizations. When I talk with Professor Dakin’s marketing classes at GMU, I’m constantly reminded how much Late Millennials and Gen Z use Pinterest as a medium for their own creativity. Get more info on applying here.
b. Whisper, the secret-sharing app that people used to tell serious stuff that was allegedly true, was leaking data and left years of user information including their secrets, age, location, and other data accessible online. More than one million of the users self-reported their age as 15. The Washington Post was able to browse nearly 900 million user records from the last eight years. Read WaPo coverage here.
c. Android apps can query your device and report back the name of other installed apps, which can allow researchers to determine gender, religion, relationship status, and even predict impending life events like marriage or parenthood. When queried, some app developers claimed not to know that the data was being harvested. More at Naked Security.
Last week’s poll results: The results were unanimous that we should keep producing COVID-19 online info each week as necessary. This week’s ONE CLICK POLL is at the end of the newsletter and asks if you’re working from home (or working at all).
2. COVID-19 Online Resources and News
Covidly — my go-to
Johns Hopkins – the one you see on the news
NY Times infections by U.S. county (free)
You’ve probably heard about phone monitoring being used to understand how COVID-19 spread is caused by people gathering in groups and traveling. The most extreme example was on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale during the first two weeks of March. Tectonix GEO isolated the identity of phones gathered on the beach during that time and then mapped their spread back across the country. How? Well, your mobile company sells data to location companies like Tectonix GEO.
Click here for the 75 second video on Twitter. Turn on the volume to hear the explanation.
You’ve undoubtedly also heard that a Google-sister company agreed to work with California to test a drive up processing and tracking system. Their demo video is below.
3. Search Engine Optimization News
If you run a business that is temporarily closed, there are Google processes for you to follow that will help inform potential visitors and keep your search visibility intact. You can also use this to designate different operating hours.
Here is a link to their official guidance. If you run a small business and need help with this, we’re happy to lend you a hand. Click the silver “Write George” button at the bottom.
Google also will disallow businesses from advertising about passports, visas, and other government document services such as driver’s licenses, birth, death, or marriage certificates, and applications for government benefits. The official announcement is here.
Google search results will also begin showing the place where an embedded video on a company’s website originates. For example, the video above is from YouTube and will be on our website. When the video shows in Google results, it will show its origin of YouTube rather than our website. We’ve told you before how Google is intent on diminishing the brandability of website URLs and wants to promote content sources like video repositories. Interestingly enough, their parent company owns the world’s largest.
4. Also in the Spotlight — YouTube Quality
Bandwidth congestion is going to be a challenge for most communities over the coming weeks. As more organizations embrace video conferencing and school systems bring kids to online learning, we’re going to have slowdowns and need to exercise patience. The adage of never knowing a person until you see how they act with slow connectivity exists for a reason.
YouTube and Netflix already reduced video quality to standard in Europe. YouTube will soon make standard definition its new global norm. You will be able to access high definition settings if you must, but please make that a rare occurrence.
5. Following Up: Twitter Axes Giuliani Disinformation
This isn’t political. We’ve told you that social media orgs and search engines vowed to crack down on COVID-19 misinformation. We’ve seen them make similar vows about conspiracy theories and other disinformation, but this pandemic is empowering many people to make a stand for accuracy.
Pundit Charlie Kirk tweeted a claim that the medicines proposed by the president had 100% efficacy in treating COVID-19. The tweet also made a false claim about Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Twitter properly deleted that tweet because the medicine that the president wants to test for COVID-19 does not have any proven track record. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani then posted the entire text of the tweet on his account. Twitter promptly deleted that Giuliani disinformation tweet as well, leaving this message in its place: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules.”
Our take: Corporations like Twitter Inc. aren’t required to show any person’s information. There’s no first amendment issue. And we think that it’s time for the world to start embracing science and data instead of conspiracy theories and rumors. Twitter has taken a great first step down that path.
Still, it’s the internet. Don’t believe everything you read. Except, you know, Spotlight.
6. Debugging: Congressional Pay in Stimulus Bill
Multiple memes claimed that Congress was sneaking in $25 million in pay raises for itself in the latest stimulus bill. Sometimes doing the arithmetic helps: a $50K raise per member was going to make national headlines.
The amount quoted by the memes was for the House Child Care Center, food service contracts, and teleworking during the pandemic. You can read the rest of the debunking at FactCheck.
7. ProTip: Windows 10 Graphing Calculator
Your child may be restarting classes without that fancy-schmancy graphing calculator that they need for, um, graphs, and calculating.
Read how to activate the free one in Windows 10.
8. Great Data: The U.S. Water Crisis
First, you really should understand this issue. When we get to go back outside, it’s time to work on climate change, and water is a big problem everywhere.
But first we want you to see this data visualization winner that embraces colors, zooms, captions, maps, and more to create a stunning short presentation of a remarkably complex topic.
Click and then scroll through Andrew Levinson’s The US Water Crisis.
9. Screening Room: Budweiser One Team
10. Coffee Break: Easter Eggs in Swiss Maps
An Easter Egg is a hidden message or joke inside software. But it’s apparently been practiced by Switzerland’s official mapmakers for years, too.
Check out AIGA’s great story: “Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps.
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See you Monday.