Bytes: What’s new in tech
Game streaming’s fatal attraction
Questions are being raised about the health risks of video gaming’s live-streaming culture after a Virginia man died following a marathon 22-hour session, said Daniel Slotnik in The New York Times. Brian C. Vigneault, 35, had been broadcasting himself playing the game World of Tanks when he took a break and collapsed near his Virginia Beach home. The cause of death hasn’t been released yet, but several gamers in Taiwan and South Korea have also died during or after long streaming sessions. Some professional game streamers make a living off sites like YouTube or Twitch, a video game broadcasting site that has nearly 10 million visitors a day, through advertising or subscription payments. “Yet would-be professional streamers typically endure a relentless grind to build an audience.” The resulting lifestyle is often unhealthy, requiring long sedentary periods with little sleep, which can result in exhaustion and cardiovascular problems.
Facebook bars police ‘surveillance’
“Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists,” said Elizabeth Dwoskin in The Washington Post. The social media giant knows a lot about its users— their locations, friends, birth dates, political affiliations— and some of that data is shared with developers, most of whom use it to target advertising. But the American Civil Liberties Union revealed last year that one firm, Geofeedia, had used Facebook data to help law enforcement surveil activists protesting police violence in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. Facebook updated its policies last week to ban developers from using its data to create “tools that are used for surveillance.” The ACLU praised Facebook’s move as a “first step.”
Phone kill switch for moms and dads
Google is releasing “the most comprehensive set of parent tools for the internet yet,” said Wilson Rothman in The Wall Street Journal. The company’s new Family Link software, which launched in beta last week, lets children use an Android device just like their mom or dad, but with features such as Google search and YouTube programmed to show only kidappropriate content. Using an administrative app, parents can locate their child’s phone on a map, adjust account settings, and set screentime limits and off-limits hours. The trade-off for these features, “as always with Google,” is that the technology giant gets access to data about your kids’ online habits.