Bytes: What’s new in tech
YouTube to hire 10,000 moderators
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has vowed to deploy 10,000 human moderators “to keep tabs on videos and comments submitted to the site,” said Brian Feldman in NYMag.com. In recent weeks, the video platform has been grappling with a controversy over “violent and disturbing videos apparently aimed at, and sometimes even about, children.” Several thousand videos appearing to “exploit children, either as viewers or, in some cases, as video subjects,” have been expunged as “nervous advertisers” have pulled campaigns. Until now, YouTube has “primarily relied on user reporting as a first line of defense” and used that data to inform algorithms that flag violent and offensive content. But hiring thousands of moderators, nearly all of whom are likely to be overseas contract workers, is a recognition that too many disturbing videos escape notice.
Amazon Prime arrives on Apple TV
Marking another “small quake in the internet streaming landscape,” Amazon Prime is finally available on Apple TV, said Jefferson Graham in USA Today. The change conspicuously arrived just a day after Apple’s archrival Google “yanked its YouTube network from Amazon’s FireTV platform” in retaliation for the e-commerce giant not stocking several Google-branded products. Apple TV is popular with cord cutters, as it provides connected televisions with access to most streaming platforms via pre-loaded apps, and Prime’s inclusion is likely to vastly increase its audience. Unlike with Netflix, most Prime subscribers pay the $99 annual fee for the free shipping and consider its film and TV offerings as “a bonus.”
The bots that stole Christmas
U.S. lawmakers plan to introduce legislation to combat the “plague of bots” exasperating online holiday shoppers, said Christina Caron in The New York Times. The proliferation of the bots has rendered some sought-after toys exceedingly difficult to secure at face value. Fingerlings—the colorful, chirping monkeys, sloths, and unicorns “that wrap around your finger”—are 2017’s blockbuster toy. Yet the only place parents can find them online is on reseller sites, at “double, triple, and quadruple their original price.” One brazen eBay seller is even touting Fingerlings for $5,000. The bots constantly “ping retail websites, searching for sales and analyzing URLs.” As soon as an in-demand item becomes available, the software burns through the checkout process at a speed experts describe as “completely inhuman.” ■