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Weekly Update - March 9, 2019: Google+, YouTube, Flickr

There is less than a month until consumer Google+ shuts down, and it is clear the end is nigh. All Google+ buttons and follower badges have disappeared from websites, the Google-wide notification bell has disappeared and more and more users are making their final farewells. But it’s not all bad, there are some nice updates from YouTube, Flickr, Google My Business and more.
  • This week the Google API shut down, and Google+ buttons, follower badges, embedded posts and comments disappeared from blogs and websites. If you have Google+ plugin code on your website, now is the time to remove it.
  • This week the Google desktop notifications bell also disappeared. You can still get Google+ notifications at plus.google.com/notifications or by enabling browser notifications in your Google+ settings.
  • Whether you are a die hard (like me) or a G Suite user, the latest version of the Android Google+ app is required. It should be version 10.26.0.233822663 or later, which was released in mid February. If you cannot update the Google+ app, you can continue to access the mobile version of Google+ using Chrome or another browser.
  • Also coming very soon: Blogger will switch accounts using a Google+ profile to a Blogger profile, you will be able to use Google Takeout to export the posts in communities you own or moderate. And if you uploaded photos or videos to Google+ over the years, it’s time to download a copy (or make sure they are in Google Photos) before they are deleted.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg published a long blog post about his vision for Facebook and social media. He expects people to shift from posting in the public news feed to private messaging in Messenger and WhatsApp, has plans for encrypting messaging (once they figure out how to do that AND while still being able to stop “bad actors”) and proposes auto-expiring posts. He also wants more interoperability and integration between Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. While it’s being touted as a shift to a “privacy-focused platform”, people are skeptical (and Zuckerberg acknowledges that). At this point, Facebook will have to do a lot of work to earn user trust.
  • YouTube’s new Live Control Room rolled out to all creators. Note that it doesn’t yet include Live Events or Stream Now, but if you are otherwise streaming from your webcam or using an encoder, give it a whirl!
  • YouTube Premiers now must be scheduled at least 60 minutes in advance. You should also be able to Premiere an unlisted video (although that doesn’t seem to be enabled for me yet).
  • Flickr has expanded the number of public Creative Commons images that will be protected from deletion. Originally only public photos licensed under Creative Commons or in the public domain that were uploaded before November 1, 2018 would be preserved, even if they were uploaded by a free account that exceeded the new maximum of 1000 photos. In their latest update, Flickr announced that now all freely licensed photos will be protected from deletion, no matter when they were uploaded. But before you jump to change the licensing on your own images to prevent their deletion (now scheduled for March 12), Flickr has disabled their bulk license change tools.
  • Flickr is also launching “in memoriam” status for deceased member accounts. Public images on those accounts will be preserved, even if the Pro membership lapses.
  • Google announced plans to move Google Ad Manager (formerly Doubleclick for Publishers + Google Ad Exchange) from using a second price auction to a first price auction. Ezoic has an explainer of what this might mean for Publishers using Google Ad Manager. Google states that “this change will have no impact on auctions for ads on Google Search, AdSense for Search, YouTube, and other Google properties, and advertisers using Google Ads or Display & Video 360 do not need to take any action.”
  • You can now use Google Assistant’s Duplex technology to make restaurant reservations for you in 43 US states. The Google My Business help center has information on Duplex calling for businesses.
  • Google released an update to all Chrome platforms on March 1st to fix a Chrome vulnerability. Make sure you have updated to Chrome 72.0.3626.121 or later.
  • A new version of Skype for Web has launched, with HD video calling, call recording and other new features. Annoyingly, it’s only available in Chrome or Edge on Windows and Mac computers, with no support on Chrome OS or Linux. Microsoft recommends using the Skype Android app on your Chromebook instead.
  • European Parliament will be voting on the final version of the EU copyright directive in the next few weeks. If approved it could require significant changes to internet platforms that allow users to upload content. Google, YouTube and other tech companies are against it. See the links below for more information about why they think it's bad for creators. 
Read on for more links, tips and updates for businesses, YouTubers, webmasters and more.

Image: Daylight Saving Time by pasja1000 on Pixabay (CC0) Don’t forget that clocks spring forward on Sunday, March 10th at 2AM in most US states and Canada.

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