Bytes: What’s new in tech
YouTube takes on TV
“Google is taking the plunge into live television,” said Brian Fung in The Washington Post. The internet giant last week unveiled YouTube TV, a $35-a-month streaming service designed to compete with the likes of Sling TV, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue. YouTube TV doesn’t require a contract or long-term commitment, and it comes with many of the same popular cable channels available on other streaming services, including ESPN, Syfy, and the Disney Channel, as well as broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. YouTube’s existing software knowledge and its massive, loyal audience—users watch up to 1 billion hours of video a day on YouTube— should help Google in the coming battle for cord-cutting TV viewers. “One sign of Google’s confidence? It’s offering an unlimited amount of free DVR storage space.”
Facebook fights suicides
“Facebook is bringing its artificial-intelligence expertise to bear on suicide prevention,” said Alex Kantrowitz in BuzzFeed.com. In recent months, several Facebook users have broadcast their own suicides via the social network’s Live video streaming feature. Eager to curb this worrying trend, Facebook last week an-nounced it will start scanning users’ posts and comments for evidence of “suicidal or harmful thoughts.” The social network won’t automatically shut off live streams from users who might be at risk, but instead will reach out to them, “showing them a screen with suicide-prevention resources, including options to contact a helpline or reach out to a friend.” Facebook also won’t alert authorities to a potentially suicidal user—the person’s online friends will have to take that step.
The web runs through Amazon
Amazon doesn’t control the internet, it just “sometimes feels like it does,” said Elizabeth Weise in USA Today. Large portions of the internet were knocked out for about four hours last week after an Amazon coder made a typo while conducting maintenance at the company’s cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services. Little known to most consumers, AWS “is, in effect, the back end to much of the internet,” operating cloud-based storage and computing services for thousands of companies. AWS has about 42 percent of the cloud-computing market by revenue, and hosts a number of major sites, including Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, and Pinterest, many of whose pages wouldn’t load during the outage. ■