Bytes: What’s new in tech
YouTube’s child exploitation backlash
Global brands including Adidas, Mars, and Hewlett-Packard have paused advertising on YouTube over videos “that depict children in disturbing and abusive situations,” said Dan Corey in NBCNews.com. Advertisers pulled the ads after reports that their products were appearing next to videos of “scantily clad children with lewd and predatory comments posted below,” as well as videos of children being restrained or in visible distress. The Google-owned video platform said it has since terminated hundreds of accounts and removed more than 150,000 videos that feature disturbing images. It also removed ads from nearly 2 million videos that were “masquerading as family-friendly content,” YouTube said.
Apple’s Mac security scare
Apple suffered a rare security breach last week, said Shasha Léonard in Slate.com. The company was hit by a “security flaw so dire” it silently updated all Macs running High Sierra, the company’s latest operating system. The flaw was discovered by an independent software developer, who found that anyone could log into a Mac running High Sierra simply by clicking “Other” on the login screen and entering “root” in the username field, no password necessary. Once logged in, that person could view files and even change passwords for pre-existing users on that machine. Although Apple readied a patch within 24 hours, some Macs are still vulnerable, including computers that upgrade to High Sierra after applying the patch. Apple frequently trumpets its reputation for security and privacy. “It’s alarming to know such an accessible bug slipped past.”
Facebook Messenger for kids
“Facebook is rolling out a new messaging app for its youngest audience yet,” said Betsy Morris and Deepa Seetharaman in The Wall Street Journal. Messenger Kids specifically targets children between ages 6 and 12 and allows them to send texts, messages, and videos to a parent-approved contact list. Parents must download the app for their child and can manage settings via their own Facebook account. The social network is struggling to grow its teen user base, and critics say Messenger Kids is an attempt to “groom” children for their product. Facebook says it consulted “childdevelopment and online-safety experts” in developing the app and will exclude all advertising. Although parents can control contacts, they “won’t be able to monitor their children’s usage in real time.” ■