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Weekly Update - March 23, 2019: Stadia, Photos, Podcasters

Spring has sprung, and while new Google products are budding, we’re down to the final week for Google+ and Inbox. Consumer Google+ will be shutting down in 9 days. Here is where you can find me after the shutdown of Google: You can subscribe to my blog updates by email or just the Weekly Updates by email, or if you use Feedly or another feed reader, subscribe to the feed. I regularly post on Twitter, and irregularly post tutorials to YouTube. I have accounts on MeWe and Pluspora, but I haven't really used either yet. .
  • Google’s big announcement at this week’s Game Developer Conference is Stadia, a new cloud gaming platform integrated with YouTube. The games run on Google’s servers, with low enough latency that people using different platforms - phones, tablets, desktop computers - can play against each other, and you may see a “play now” button on YouTube that lets you jump into a game with your favorite gamer. There is a dedicated game controller, with buttons for Google Assistant and live capture and an in-house studio Stadia Games and Entertainment creating content.
  • What kind of internet connection do you need to play games? According to Phil Harrison, head of Stadia, “if you get a good YouTube experience, you’ll get a great Stadia experience”. Stadia will be launching later this year in the US, Canada, UK and “most of Europe.”
  • Have you backed up your Google+ data yet?  Download an archive using Google Takeout. Click here to start. Google+ says you should start no later than March 31st, and sooner is better than later.
  • Coming into the final week of consumer Google+, there is a last-ditch concerted effort to preserve public Google+ content in the Internet Archive. If you want to participate, see the information in the Plexodus subreddit.
  • In another reminder that you should always have your own backup of important files and data, it was revealed this week that MySpace lost all the music users uploaded between 2003 and 2015 when migrating to new servers. Apparently there was no usable backup (or MySpace just can’t be bothered).
  • Google Photos is introducing “Express backup” that provides faster backup at a reduced resolution, along with a Data Cap setting to prevent high mobile data usage. These new features are available to users in India and is rolling out slowly in other countries
  • 9to5Google reports Google Podcasts is available on desktop web with playback and syncing. This has not officially launched and it is pretty bare bones and the moment. Presumably there are changes to come. The first class of Google’s Podcast Creator Program are currently getting training. Applications for the next class are due by April 14th.
  • Google Tasks now lets you add a date and time, create repeating tasks and import your Reminders.
  • Google has posted their 2018 Webspam report: they reduced the impact of “user-generated spam” of low quality free blogs and spammy forum posts by 80%, and are still fighting link spam. They encourage reporting spam in the search results and are providing more tools for webmasters and developers to help create high quality content. Check out the report for details.
  • Enter your website with a .page, .app or .dev domain in the Google Registry Website Competition by April 30th. Winners will receive a Pixel 3 (or equivalent) and the opportunity to be featured on one of Google Registry's websites (get.page, get.app and get.dev). You can also get a 25% discount at Wordpress.com through the contest deadline on April 30th.
  • The Google News Initiative is one year old, and has provided tools and training for hundreds of thousands of journalists world-wide. Two fact checking tools will be coming out of beta very soon: Fact Check Markup, which is an easy way for reporters to add structured data markup to their fact checking content, and Fact Check Explorer to help journalists find fact checking articles.
  • Google was fined more than $1.7 billion by the European Union for “illegal practices in search advertising brokering”, including preventing publishers from placing additional 3rd party ads on AdSense for Search results pages. Google changed those policies in 2016 and has made other changes in response to the European Commission’s “feedback” including how Google Shopping works and (coming soon) asking Android device users in Europe which search and browser apps they prefer to use.
  • It was revealed this week that Facebook stored hundreds of millions of user account passwords in plain text for years, and those could be accessed by Facebook employees. While Facebook says that they have "no evidence that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them" change your password now anyway.
  • YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan spoke to the Washington Post about what happened in their “war room” in the hours and days after New Zealand shooting. The shooter’s livestream video was immediately hashed using the same methods for detecting copyrighted content. To speed up the take-down process, YouTube executives decided to bypass the usual human moderation for flagged content, immediately taking down videos detected by the automated systems. They also disabled the ability to filter search results for the most recent uploads. Even so many videos got through, as the automated filtering systems were unable to detect many of the “tens of thousands of permutations” of the video that were uploaded.
  • Facebook has also posted an update on their efforts to prevent the spread of video livestreamed by the New Zealand shooter: only 200 people watched the video live and it was shared on 8chan before it was reported to Facebook, and only 4000 times total before it was taken down. Subsequently Facebook removed 1.2 million re-post videos on upload (and probably more since this report). Facebook believes the video was intentionally spread by coordinated action of “bad actors” on social media and video sharing sites, plus by news media reports that used clips of the video.
Read on for more links, tips and updates for YouTubers advertisers, webmasters, and more.

Image: Colosseum and Moon by Tito Zoe Chiacchiera on Wikimedia Commons, shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.

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