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Weekly Update - July 2, 2022: Hangouts migration to Chat, YouTube anti-impersonation updates, technolgy & health data

Happy summer! I’ve had a busy couple of weeks.

Last week was the North American summit for the Google Product Experts Program in New York City.

It was my first major travel and event since 2019, which felt a bit strange. It was fantastic to see my fellow Product Experts in person and I learned a ton, and it was both exhilarating and exhausting. I was also honored to receive the Positive Impact Award.

And so far no ill effects so far (knock wood).

(the back of my head makes an appearance at 0:38)

I’m still recovering and catching up.

There have been a *lot* of updates this week, including a timeline for the migration of Hangouts to Google Chat, updates to Google Meet, new YouTube controls to combat spam and impersonation, discussions on technology, privacy and healthcare, plus updates for Facebook, Twitter, various productivity tools and more. 

Read on for details.

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It’s time to switch from Google Hangouts to Chat

Google announced their timeline for the final migration from Hangouts to Google Chat. Starting this week the Hangouts mobile app and Chrome extension will stop working. Hangouts on the web (at will continue to work at least through October.

The alternative is the new Google Chat, which includes Chat conversations and collaborative Spaces. It’s built in to Gmail and is integrated with Drive, Calendar, Docs, Tasks and other Google services.

All (or most all) of your Hangouts conversations should already be available in Chat. And there are nice features like @mentions, Smart Replies, GIFs and dark mode.

I’ve written up everything you need to know to switch from Hangouts to Chat. Give it a read!

Google Meet backgrounds artist Deb Lee

Brooklyn-based illustrator Deborah Lee has contributed several colorful backgrounds for Google Meet, including the June Pride background.

I am a fan of her style. Take a look

New YouTube controls to combat impersonation and spam

YouTube has introduced several changes that make it harder to impersonate other creators and to reduce spam comments.
  • As of July 29, channels will no longer be able to hide their subscriber account
  • YouTube is limiting the special characters that can be used in a channel name (think preventing names like ¥ouⓉube✅)
  • Creators can change their comment moderation setting to “increase strictness” to hold more potentially spammy or abusive comments for review.

Technology, Privacy and Health

The US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade allows states to criminalize abortions. There is concern that apps with technology that tracks location or health could be used to target those seeking abortion care.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation discusses whether you should delete your period tracking app (maybe, depending on your situation and which app you use).

And Google has announced that in the coming weeks they will start to autlmatically delete visits in Location History to sensitive locations like medical facilities, including counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, and cosmetic surgery clinics. They also say they will continue to push back on “overly broad demands [for personal data] from law enforcement.”

Meta says they have not changed their content policies around abortion on Facebook or Instagram, despite some recent “incorrect enforcement”.


YouTube and Video

If you upload videos to YouTube on mobile, the Studio mobile app now shows copyright and ad suitability checks. Once the check is complete, you can publish your video if everything looks good.

Now all eligible monetizing YouTube creators have access to Membership Gifting. Learn more.

YouTube hosted a discussion on how to build a lasting career on the internet.

YouTube has launched a new learning destination for Ukrainian high school students.

Meta is deprecating its Facebook Premieres communal video viewing option on August 22. Like YouTube Premieres it allows a “live” broadcast of a pre-recorded video.

Facebook is launching “Creator Collaborations”, to allow creators to publish video content together.

Meta is offering more monetization options: they are opening up the Reels Play Bonus program to more Facebook creators, and opening up Facebook Stars to all eligible creators.

You can now add a Community Manager for Facebook Live to help moderate live chat while you are live streaming.

All video posts on Instagram are now Reels?!

Web Publishers

If you are considering using AdSense ads to monetize your website, check out their new onboarding video series on YouTube.

Google Sites now lets you customize the spacing between elements on your site.

Link shortening service smartURL was purchased and there is a suggestion they may start modifying links to insert advertising. It seems to me that a redirected link using your own domain, rather than third part service, is likely more reliable in the long run.

Social Media

Meta launched their 3D avatars store, where you can purchase “designer” outfits for your virtual image. It’s not something I’m interested in, and it will be interesting to see if it turns out to be a moneymaker.

Facebook is launching Community chat channels, audio channels and topic feeds for smaller group discussions in a “more casual” setting.

Twitter is testing “Notes”, a way to create longer posts that looks suspiciously like a blog.

Twitter Spaces recordings can now be available indefinitely.

Instagram is testing new ways to verify a user is old enough to use the platform, including having mutual followers older than 18 vouch for you and automated age estimation by video.

Applications for Community Funds are now open on Reddit. Moderators can apply for funding for online conferences, festivals, books, exhibitions or other similar participatory events.

Snapchat launched the Snapchat+ subscription service, offering access to “exclusive, experimental, and pre-release features”.

Privacy and Security

Google has improved their password manager, with a new, more consistent design, the ability to manually add passwords, a new Password Checkup to look for compromised, weak or reused passwords, and better integration on iOS devices.


Google Meet will show a list of Calendar event invitees, so you can reach out to folks who RSVP’d but have not joined the meeting. This will be available to Google Workspace accounts only.

Google Meet now includes background noise cancellation on Pixel 4 and higher phones.

Meet is also launching cloud-based effects processing for devices “not best designed for running real-time video effects” that will be available to some Google Workspace customers. Meet has also improved the background and foreground separation for video effects for all users with eligible devices.

Microsoft Teams has new features for video calls on the web, including custom backgrounds and Live captions and Live transcription in 27 languages,


Adobe plans to make Photoshop on the web free to everyone under a “freemium” model. It’s currently being tested in Canada.

Some users will be switched to the new Gmail layout (with Chat and Meet integration) as their default, with the option to opt out. Currently, the new layout is opt in only.

You can now work offline with Microsoft Office files using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

Google is adding native integration of eSignature into Google Docs. It will launch as a beta for Google Workspace Individual accounts. Other Google Workspace Individual features include premium Meet meeting features, customized appointment scheduling, and the ability to run simple email marketing campaigns from Gmail. It is currently available as an upgrade to personal Google accounts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the United States.

Google has redesigned Google News for desktop, with more prominent Local news and personalized news picks.

Drag images from Google Keep into other apps on your Android device.

Customize the fonts you use in Google Forms and add rich text formatting to Form titles and descriptions.

You can now print your Google Tasks list.

More reading

The Pew Research Center asked more than 600 technology experts how they expect the metaverse to develop by 2040. They seem pretty evenly split on whether they think the metaverse will become important in our daily lives. But most think that augmented- and mixed-reality applications will dominate, rather than fully immersive platforms.

Former CIA Aaron Berman writes on Twitter the lessons he learned writing the President’s Daily Brief that are useful for anyone writing about complex issues. Read the whole thread for examples.

That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

Image: New York City skyline, photo by me, copyright 2022, all rights reserved.


  1. You have to be careful about your online activities. The government could go after women just looking for health care advice.


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Spam and personal attacks are not allowed. Any comment may be removed at my own discretion ~ Peggy