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Weekly Update - June 15, 2019: YouTube, Google Photos, Webmasters

This week there were updates for gamers, video creators, webmasters and much more. Dig in!
  • In honor of World Blood Donor Day, Facebook and Google are making it easier to become a blood donor in the US. Google partners with the Red Cross to help donors find a blood drive using Google Maps. And starting today, you can sign up to be a blood donor on Facebook. And if you are able, consider donating.
  • In a change meant to reduce user confusion, Google announced that Photos will no longer synchronize with Google Drive as of July 10th. What this means is that any images or videos uploaded to Google Photos after that date will not automatically appear in Google Drive, and vice versa. There will be an option to import selected images from Drive into your Google Photos. Many users probably won’t notice the change, but for those of us who do use it to manage image uploads via Drive (and organize into albums in Photos), access Photos images from third party services (which is done via Drive), embed videos from Photos on a website (via Drive’s embedding option), or import videos stored in Drive to YouTube (done via Photos), it removes a useful tool from our toolbox.
  • Also noted, the new YouTube desktop video uploader, which is currently in beta, does not offer the option to import video from Google Photos, so that feature will likely no longer be available at some point.
  • YouTube made some notifications-related changes this week. When someone subscribes to your channel, they now see a little menu that lets them set notifications as “All”, “Personalized” (formerly “Occasional”) or “None” with new clearer icons. That isn’t a change in functionality, but rather it’s designed to help users better understand what they have set. For Creators, YouTube Analytics in Studio now shows you what percentage of your subscribers have turned on all notifications for your channel, and what percentage of those actually have notifications enabled in the YouTube app (which may be a fraction of the total). This is in addition to recent improvements made to notification reliability. And take note: YouTube will only send 3 notifications from a channel per day. Iit may be worth spacing out multiple uploads over several days to be sure your subscribers are notified of all of them.
  • Mozilla gave Firefox a new logo design, and made “Firefox” the overarching brand for a family of products and services that includes the Firefox Browser, Firefox Send, Firefox Monitor and Firefox Lockwise.
  • Facebook Watch - Facebook’s social video watching feature - has 140 million daily users who watch for at least one minute of video on Watch, and the average watch time is 26 minutes per day. They’ve made it easier to find Groups related to the videos you’re watching, and for creators, the option to insert ad breaks is available in more countries. And it’s not just user-created works, Facebook is continuing to invest in content with Facebook Originals.
  • If you are live streaming via Vimeo, you can now add images, animated text or logo overlays to your live stream without the need for third party tools. If you need to add a lower third label, you can do that right from your browser Vimeo lets you live stream simultaneously on Facebook Live or any custom RTMP destination like YouTube, Twitch, or Periscope, but it’s only available to Premium subscribers (at $75/month). But even if you don’t have a Vimeo account, you can try the live demo.
  • The “privacy-friendly, fun, & honest” social network-in-development Openbook is changing its name to Openspace, after being contacted by Facebook’s lawyers.
  • Drip was going to be Kickstarter's creator-friendly answer to Patreon. Last October they announced they were working with XOXO to create Drip’s successor, one that would “help independent artists and creators get discovered, find a community to support their work, and build a long-term, sustainable career.” This week XOXO announced the project is cancelled, because they couldn’t find a way to make the business work.
  • ”We explored a number of different options—voluntary subscriptions from users, premium features, increased fees—but the resources required to support a high number of lower-volume creators always outpaced our revenue.” Drip’s beta creators, who would have been moved to this new platform, c will have to move elsewhere.
  • You can now share your screen in a Skype call on your Android or iOS device. Skype has also redesigned the mobile interface to “simplify and streamline” video call controls.
  • Google Docs now has a “Compare Documents” tool, that lets you easily compare different versions of a document. You can also view the edit history of a cell in Google Sheets.
  • Over the past few weeks there has been considerable discussion and criticism about upcoming changes to Chrome that will require ad-blocking extensions like BlockOrigin and Ghostery to change to a “less effective, rules-based system”. There has been some speculation that Google’s ulterior motive for this change is to protect their advertising income. This week Google provided more information about why they are making those changes, stating “No, Chrome isn’t killing ad blockers -- we’re making them safer”. Ad blocking extensions currently use the Web Request API, which can incidentally pass emails, photos or other private data to the extension. This is being replaced by a new API, that allows extensions to block content without requiring the user to grant access to any sensitive information. It sounds to me like that will be a significant privacy improvement, even if the ad blockers don’t work quite as effectively.
  • Google is launching free day-long Webmaster Conference around the world. They are aimed at local publishers, bloggers and business owners who want to improve the online presence of their websites. So far they have announced conferences in 15 cities in India and a conference in Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia. Most are in July and August, so register soon if you are interested.
  • Facebook is improving the ranking of post comments. Now comments that have interactions from the Page or person who originally posted and comments from friends of the person who posted will be more visible.
  • Google’s Area120 has a new free Game Builder app for Mac and Windows that lets you collaboratively create 3D games, with no coding knowledge required. You can download Game Builder on Steam.
  • Jigsaw is an incubator within Alphabet that develops technology to protect free speech, combat online harassment, and counter violent extremism. In 2018, as part of research into state-sponsored social media disinformation campaigns, they went so far as to hire a Russian troll service to attack a political website (one they had set up themselves). Their research uncovered some sites that publicly offer fake followers, paid retweets, and black hat search engine optimization for sale, offer “mass-scale social media posting on political subjects” as an under-the-counter- service. Despite its small scale, Jigsaw has come under fire for crossing the line into operating what amounted to a political disinformation campaign in Russia.
  • E3 - the Electronic Entertainment Expo - was held last week in Los Angeles. Amid the record breaking heat, there were a number game and console announcements. I’ve rounded up links with all the details below.
  • Finally, Recode’s invite-only Code Conference 2019 brought together top tech executives, news correspondents, policymakers and activists. It’s focus was “The Reckoning” that is “forcing tech companies like Facebook and Google to rectify some of the incalculable mistakes they made as they built up the internet”. Highlights include:
    • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki talked about the updated hate speech policy and last week’s decision to NOT remove videos attacking Vox reporter Carlos Maza, but rather just removing the channel from the YouTube Partner Program.. While she acknowledged that decision was “hurtful to the LGBTQ community”, she stands by the decision as having been “the right call” based on the context of the content.
    • Co-founder of Twitter (and Blogger) and CEO of Medium Ev Williams reminisced about simpler times on the internet: “Part of the beautiful thing about blogging was you were always looking for feedback but you didn’t get it as momentarily — things could marinate. [...] Now, there’s an addiction to short-term feedback that is detrimental sometimes to thought.”
    • PBS CEO Paula Kerger explained how Apple’s soon-to-be-implemented prohibition on third party analytics software in kids apps will negatively impact the PBS Kids streaming app.
    • Venture capitalist Mary Meeker presented her annual Internet Trends Report. Some stats:
      * 51 percent of the world (3.8 billion people) were internet users last year
      * there is an increase in visual storytelling with Instagram and YouTube gaining online platform time, while other social site usage was flat
      * more than 50 percent of Twitter impressions now involving posts with images, video or other media
      * internet ad spending is up 22%, with Twitter and Amazon gaining a larger share
      * e-commerce is 15% of retail sales
      * the number of interactive gamers worldwide grew 6 percent to 2.4 billion. 
Read on for more updates and tips for gamers, video creators, business owners and more.

Image: Photo of bells by Fancycrave.com from Pexels. Free use under the Pexels license.

Upcoming

June is LGBTQ Pride Month (updated)

E3 2019 Updates

Recode Code Conference 2019

YouTube and Video Creation

Go Live

Social Media: Facebook and Instagram

Social Media: Twitter

Other Social Media

Google Photos and Photo Sharing

Google for Businesses

Bloggers and Webmasters

AdSense and Advertising

Hangouts, Meetings and Messaging

Made by Google, Android, Google Fi

Productivity

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