Bytes: What’s new in tech
Social media’s war on terrorism
“Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft are teaming up to combat terrorist content,” said Kia Kokalitcheva in Fortune.com. The tech firms announced last week that they plan to create a shared database of terrorism-related images and videos that violate their content policies. By doing so, the companies hope to more efficiently flag and remove terrorist content when it’s posted, but the database won’t be used to automatically remove suspicious posts. Each firm will still decide individually which posts to remove and which users should be banned. Nor will the database contain personally identifiable information about users. Until recently, social media companies largely relied on users to report pro-terrorist content.
Kiddie headphones: Too loud
Parents should be skeptical of headphone brands claiming to be “safe for young ears,” said Catherine Saint Louis in The New York Times. An analysis of 30 children’s headphone brands by The Wirecutter, a consumer products review site, found that half of the models did not restrict volume as advertised. The worst offenders “produced sound so loud that it could be hazardous to ears in minutes,” with the loudest headphones reaching up to 114 decibels. By comparison, exposure to 100 decibels, roughly equivalent to the sound of a lawn mower, can cause hearing damage after 15 minutes, while the mandated workplace safety limit for adults is 85 decibels. Even with effective headphones, audiologists recommend keeping the volume on kids’ devices at 60 percent and taking listening breaks every hour.
Instagram to be ‘more welcoming’
“In the next few weeks, Instagram is going to look even more like its parent company, Facebook,” said Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post. Users will now be able to “like” individual comments on photos and videos similar to the way they can on Facebook, showing their appreciation “with a little red heart.” Instagram is also rolling out new antiharassment features so that users will be able to turn off comments for specific posts as well as quietly remove followers without blocking them. The changes are part of the company’s ongoing effort to create “a more welcoming environment.” In September, the company introduced the ability to filter certain abusive language from comments. But like other social networks, Instagram has struggled to curb abuse on its platform “without crossing a line into censorship.”