The Rise Of Online Privacy

The Rise Of Online PrivacyAfter a never-ending erosion of online privacy via companies tracking everything users do online, the trend seems to be reversing direction and users are being given the tools they need to take back some control over how their online activities are tracked.

If you hate searching for a product on one site and then seeing ads for that product on every other site you visit, you are not alone. A few leading technology companies have learned that protecting their customers is good for business, and help is on the way. Web browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Brave are now blocking this type of tracking by default.

Companies that profit by harvesting user’s online profiles are upset about these changes, claiming it’s “bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love.” These companies are also upset at the rapid rise of Ad Blockers in web browsers. On several websites I operate, over 50% of users are visiting the website with browsers that use Ad Blockers.

Two ways companies are giving control of privacy back to users is through blocking cross-site tracking, and fighting browser fingerprinting.

What Is Cross-Site Tracking?

Cross-site tracking refers to companies collecting a user’s browsing data across multiple websites. When you browse from site to site, you’re often followed by tracking mechanisms that collect data on what websites you have visited, what pages you visited, what searches you performed, etc.

What Is Browser Fingerprinting?

Browser Fingerprinting is an incredibly accurate method of identifying unique browsers and tracking their online activity even when cookies are disabled. Browser Fingerprinting works by building a unique “signature” of your device based on identification points like IP Adress, Web Browser, Screen Resolution, Plugins enabled, etc. This type of fingerprinting works even if you clear your cookies.

Behind the scene, the companies that are tracking your online activity are building in-depth profiles of who you are, and what your interests are… including some very private information. On the surface this may seem benign or beneficial to users. However, Facebook’s repeated privacy scandals have revealed how companies can exploit this user information.

How Users Can Take Back Some Control?

Apple has taken a leadership position in protecting user privacy. Apple has implemented new features in Safari called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention”.

Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention works to prevent cross-site tracking. Safari will prevent tracking mechanisms from companies like Facebook, Google, and advertising networks from loading on websites until you explicitly click them. If you want to use Facebook features on a website, you’ll get a prompt asking if you want Facebook.com to access your cookies and website data. If you don’t allow that access, Facebook won’t be able to track your browsing activities online, even if you’re signed into Facebook while browsing.

Safari’s new restrictions will make it much more difficult for websites to uniquely identify you using Browser Fingerprinting.

Starting with version 65 of Firefox blocking Cross-Site Tracking and Browser Fingerprinting is enabled by default.

And of course there is my favorite web browser Brave. Brave is an open source web browser that blocks advertisements, tracking pixels, and tracking cookies by default.

It is good that a cross-platform browsers like Firefox and Brave implement these features, because it is unlikely that Google Chrome is going to do anything that potentially hurts ad revenue any time soon. However, even Google Chrome has the ability to send a “Do Not Track” request if you go into its Advanced Privacy & Security Settings and you can install ad-blocking plugins for Google Chrome.

While Duck Duck Go’s Traffic Growth (an online search alternative that respects a users right to privacy) probably doesn’t concern Google much at this point, if they start losing web browser market share they may be forced to address user’s concerns over the data they are collecting and how they are using it.

Category : BriteWire Blog


Facebook 2018 Year in Review

Facebook 2018 Year In ReviewFacebook 2018 Year in Review highlights the top ways people are being exploited on Facebook and its subsidiaries like Instagram. Unsurprisingly, most of them are pretty depressing, confirming what we all already knew from previous years – Facebook can’t be fixed.

Reddit user fantastic_comment compiled this information and the post was originally published on Reddit – original link: https://np.reddit.com/r/StallmanWasRight/comments/acuct5/facebook_2018_year_in_review/

Ironic that it was posted on Reddit, since Reddit also had numerous missteps in 2018. Reddit just isn’t nearly as bad as Facebook.

Enjoy!

January

Date Article
2018-01-30 More than 110 child-health advocates have called on Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to pull the firm’s Messenger Kids app aimed at under 13s, warning of the dangers of social media for children
2018-01-24 Facebook should be regulated like a cigarette company, because of the addictive and harmful properties of social media, according to Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff
2018-01-23 Facebook enables ‘fake news’ by reliance on digital advertising
2018-01-11 Facebook patents tracking method using dust on camera lenses

February

Date Article
2018-02-16 Facebook ordered to stop collecting user data by Belgian court
2018-02-12 Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court
2018-02-08 Brazil’s biggest newspaper, Folha de S Paulo, has announced that it will no longer publish content on its Facebook page, accusing the social media giant of encouraging fake news and become ‘inhospitable terrain for … quality content’

March

Date Article
2018-03-29 Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones without explicitly notifying users
2018-03-29 Growth At Any Cost: Top Facebook Executive Defended Data Collection In 2016 Memo — And Warned That Facebook Could Get People Killed
2018-03-28 Facebook increases lobbying presence on Capitol Hill before Zuckerberg testimony
2018-03-26 Facebook tracking is present in 41% of the most popular Android apps
2018-03-20 WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton tell us “It is time delete facebook”
2018-03-17 87 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
2018-03-16 Facebook has been forced to apologise after it spent hours suggesting sexual videos and child abuse content
2018-03-14 The UK’s data protection watchdog has concluded that WhatsApp’s sharing of user data with its parent company Facebook would have been illegal
2018-03-13 ‘Facebook has now turned into a beast’, says United Nations investigator, calling network a vehicle for ‘acrimony, dissension and conflict’
2018-03-09 Facebook Launches Another Deceptive ‘Security’ App Designed to Siphon Your Data. Updated: Facebook Deletes App
2018-03-05 Facebook asks users: should we allow men to ask children for sexual images?

April

Date Article
2018-04-30 WhatsApp founder Jan Koum announced he was leaving Facebook amid user data disputes
2018-04-19 Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law
2018-04-18 Facebook to start asking permission for facial recognition in GDPR push
2018-04-17 Facebook admits tracking users and non-users off-site
2018-04-16 Facebook ad feature claims to predict user’s future behaviour
2018-04-11 Zuckerberg being grilled on Capitol Hill – Day 2
2018-04-10 Zuckerberg being grilled on Capitol Hill – Day 1
2018-04-05 Facebook secretly deleted messages Mark Zuckerberg sent on Messenger
2018-04-05 Facebook investigated by Australian privacy watchdog over suspected data-sharing
2018-04-05 Facebook admits it discussed sharing user data for medical research project
2018-04-04 Facebook refuses to promise GDPR-style privacy protection for US users
2018-04-03 Revealed: Facebook hate speech exploded in Myanmar during Rohingya crisis
2018-04-03 Facebook apologises for storing draft videos users thought they had deleted

May

Date Article
2018-05-25 Max Schrems NGO NOYB launches first legal cases under GDPR. Complaints have been filed against Facebook, Google, Instagram and WhatsApp within hours of the new GDPR data protection law taking effect
2018-05-24 Facebook accused of conducting mass surveillance through its apps. Company gathered data from texts and photos of users and their friends, court case claims
2018-05-22 Mark Zuckerberg dodges question from European Parliament on Facebook ‘shadow profiles’
2018-05-22 Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg meets with the European Parliament
2018-05-11 Facebook hit with class action lawsuit over collection of texts and call logs
2018-05-03 Facebook harvested 3.5 billion Instagram images without warning their owners until today

June

Date Article
2018-06-27 Facebook Patent Imagines Triggering Your Phone’s Mic When a Hidden Signal Plays on TV
2018-06-27 Facebook, Google and Microsoft push users away from privacy-friendly options on their services in an “unethical” way, according to a report by the Norwegian Consumer Council
2018-06-21 7 Creepy Patents Reveal About Facebook
2018-06-12 Facebook admitted that it collects information from and about computers, phones, and connected devices, including mouse
2018-06-07 Facebook apologizes for privacy glitch that affected up to 14 million users
2018-06-05 Facebook Gave Data Access to Chinese Firm Flagged by U.S. Intelligence
2018-06-03 Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends

July

Date Article
2018-07-23 Rubens nudes fall foul of Facebook censors (VIDEO)
2018-07-05 Facebook labels declaration of independence as ‘hate speech’
2018-07-02 Facebook gave 61 businesses including Nike, Spotify, UPS and dating app Hinge special rights to access user data after blocking such access more broadly

August

Date Article
2018-08-27 A report from the United Nations called Facebook a “useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate” in the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and that the company’s response to the crisis was “slow and ineffective.”
2018-08-23 Facebook violates Apple’s data-gathering rules, pulls Onavo VPN from App Store
2018-08-17 Justice Dept. Backs Suit Accusing Facebook of Violating Fair Housing Act
2018-08-06 Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement
2018-08-02 ‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: Facebook reviewing anti-nudity policy after blocking Montreal museum ad

September

Date Article
2018-09-28 Facebook blocked users from posting some stories about its security breach
2018-09-28 Facebook Security Breach Exposes Accounts of 50 Million Users
2018-09-26 Facebook Is Giving Advertisers Access to Your Shadow Contact Information
2018-09-25 Facebook failing to protect moderators from mental trauma, lawsuit claims
2018-09-24 Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced that they were leaving the company they had sold to Facebook – “no one ever leaves a job because everything’s awesome.”
2018-09-21 Instagram’s new TV service recommended videos of potential child abuse

October

Date Article
2018-10-30 We posed as 100 Senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them
2018-10-25 Facebook has been fined £500,000 by the UK’s data protection watchdog for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal
2018-10-19 Facebook inflated ad metrics up to 900 percent. Facebook was aware of inaccuracies in the way it measured how many people viewed video on its site for a year longer than it has previously admitted, court documents have claimed
2018-10-12 Facebook says 14m accounts had personal data stolen in recent breach
2018-10-10 Facebook Is Still Thirsty for Your Health Data
2018-10-05 Facebook to release first-party cookie option for ads, pull web analytics from Firefox and Safari
2018-10-04 Instagram prototypes handing your location history to Facebook

November

Date Article
2018-11-24 Parliament has used its legal powers to seize internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the US social media giant to account after chief executive Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to answer MPs’ questions
2018-11-21 Facebook criticised for post promoting child bride auction. Company failed to remove post that informed users of auction of 17-year-old girl for several days
2018-11-17 Instagram bug inadvertently exposed some users’ passwords
2018-11-14 Facebook policy chief admits hiring PR firm to attack George Soros
2018-11-13 Facebook bug let websites read ‘likes’ and interests from a user’s profile
2018-11-12 WhatsApp struggling to control fake news in India, researchers say
2018-11-12 Facebook Failed to Police How Its Partners Handled User Data
2018-11-06 Facebook admits failings over incitement to violence in Myanmar
2018-11-02 Facebook Allowed Advertisers to Target Users Interested in “White Genocide” — Even in Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre
2018-11-02 Private messages from 81,000 hacked Facebook accounts for sale

December

Date Article
2018-12-29 How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook – Report by Privacy International
2018-12-20 WhatsApp has an encrypted child porn problem
2018-12-19 The attorney general for the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against Facebook for its role in allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal information of millions of people without their consent
2018-12-19 Facebook users cannot avoid location-based ads, investigation finds
2018-12-18 Internal documents show that the social network gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it has disclosed
2018-12-15 Facebook is being used to silence bloggers critical of Vietnam’s government, according to Reporters Without Borders
2018-12-14 Facebook disclosed that a bug may have exposed the photos of up to 6.8 million users people had uploaded but chosen not to post
2018-12-10 Facebook Filed A Patent To Calculate Your Future Location based on your historical location data and other parameters
2018-12-07 Italian regulator fines Facebook £8.9m for misleading users
2018-12-06 Facebook emails reveal discussions over call log consent. Employees discussed how to minimise amount of consent they would need to ask for
2018-12-05 Facebook discussed cashing in on user data, emails suggest. Social network staff apparently conversed about removing data restrictions for big ad spenders

 

Tags :

Category : BriteWire Blog


Using Data Analysis To Design Better Photos

Better cameras don’t necessarily take photos that people think are better.

The visual image criteria that customers respond favorably to is an ongoing area of interest to me. I routinely use knowledge gained through A/B testing of images to achieve competitive advantage by producing images specifically designed to appeal to specific users.

In a previous article I discussed how Netflix uses image analysis to create visual content.

This data analysis reveals trends in color preferences and style for images used at Netflix.

Cameras get better each year with sensors capable of capturing more pixels, and more dynamic range. The result are images that are sharp, and have more details in shadows and highlights than ever before.

Advances in Computational Photography allow cell phone cameras to automatically take “better photos” without extra effort and knowledge of photography. Throwing processing power at raw images lets smartphones and cameras do some amazing things. Computational Photography tweaks settings between each shot ensuring that people and scenes always “look their best”.

At least that is the claim.

The problem is that better cameras don’t necessarily take photos that the majority of people prefer because they don’t take trends in color preference and style into consideration.

Marques Brownlee has a popular channel on Youtube where he reviews tech products. He created a video called “The Blind Smartphone Camera Test 2018!” which revealed that “better cameras” are not capturing and processing photos that the vast majority of people prefer to the images captured by less capable cameras.

Using Data Analysis To Design Better Photos
O = iPhone X
P = Xiaomi Pocophone F1
Image Credit: Marques Brownlee
To get as large of an audience as possible, the blind tests Marques used were performed on images posted and viewed on Twitter and Instagram and resulted in over 6 million votes in the polls for best images.

He used 16 of the most popular mobile phones in a winner takes all bracket style competition. He included powerful phones like the Pixel 3, Hydrogen, and the iPhone X, and iPhone XS along with less capable cameras used by the Blackberry and Xiaomi Pocophone.

Most images are viewed on social media platforms now, and it is well known that Twitter and Instagram have horrible image compression, but it makes sense to use these platforms to test trends and image preferences.

The results revealed an obvious trend. People do not like the perfectly exposed high dynamic range photos that the “best cameras” captured.

There’s obviously a massive subjective component: people like brighter, warmer, punchy photos.

Computation photography and large image sensors capable of capturing copious amounts of detail and high dynamic range are still not a substitute for good glass, and an artistic understanding of photographic principals and composition.

In the end, you have to understand what your customers prefer, and craft visual strategies designed to appeal to those preferences.

Category : BriteWire Blog


Google shutting down Google+ following massive undisclosed user data exposure

PR teams at Google and Facebook have been working overtime this week due to breaches of user data on their networks. Google announced that it would shut down Google+ after it discovered a security vulnerability that exposed the private data of up to 500,000 users. Google+ is the company’s long-struggling answer to Facebook’s giant social network.

Google Shutting Down Google PlusIt really is not that much of a blow for Google to shutter Google+. Google admits that Google+ has “low usage and engagement” and that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds.

It is Google’s lack of disclosure on the security breach that is causing waves in the cybersecurity community. There are rules in California and Europe that govern when a company must disclose a security episode.

Google did not tell its users about the security issue when it was found in March because it didn’t appear that anyone had gained access to user information, and the company’s “Privacy & Data Protection Office” decided it was not legally required to report it, the search giant said in a blog post.

Others are citing the leak as further evidence that the large technology platforms need more regulatory oversight.

“Monopolistic internet platforms like Google and Facebook are probably ‘too big to secure’ and are certainly ‘too big to trust’ blindly,” said Jeff Hauser, from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.

Google+ had some innovative ideas, that just never caught on. At one time Google put significant effort into pushing the adoption of Google+, including using its data to personalize search results based on what a user’s connections have +1’d.

Thankfully I never invested heavily into Google+, but I did like how you could organize content into collections wich I alligned with market segments.

Google+ will shut down over a 10-month period, which is slated for completion by the end of August, 2019.

Google also announced a series of reforms to its privacy policies designed to give users more control on the amount of data they share with third-party app developers.

Users will now be able to have more “fine grained” control over the various aspects of their Google accounts that they grant to third-parties (ie calendar entries v Gmail), and Google will further limit third-parties’ access to email, SMS, contacts and phone logs.


DuckDuckGo Traffic Growth

The growth of DuckDuckGo is amazing. It took seven years for DuckDuckGo to reach 10 million searches in one day. It then took another two years to hit 20 million searches in a day. It took less than a year after that for DuckDuckGo to surpass 30 million searches in a day!

DuckDuckGo Traffic GrowthIf you are not familiar with the search engine DuckDuckGo yet, you will probably be hearing more about it from now on. DuckDuckGo is a search engine, like Google, Yahoo or Bing, but with DuckDuckGo your searches and your IP address are kept 100% anonymous. People seeking ways to reduce their digital footprint online is driving the rapid traffic growth at DuckDuckGo.com.

Compared to Google, DuckDuckGo is still tiny. At the time of this blog post, the record for daily searches at DuckDuckGo was 30,602,556. That makes it less than 1% the size of Google which handles over 3.5 billion searches per day.

However, the daily search volume on DuckDuckGo is now approximately one quarter of the daily search volume of Bing. Not bad for a small search startup with a funny name and only 40 employees.

Google continues to dwarf the search volume of the competition like DuckDuckGo, but continuing issues of censorship and data security issues are starting to cause many users to question whether they want to use Google.

This week Google admitted they were hacked and exposed the private data for as many as 500,000 people. As a result, they announced they will be shutting down Google+.

People are increasingly becoming aware that giant technology companies like Google and Facebook are making money off of their private information online. As more competitors to these established titans of technology begin educating users about how they are being tracked, alternatives like DuckDuckGo are gaining market share.


Artificial Neural Networks For Marketing

Artificial Neural Networks are progressive learning systems modeled after the human brain that continuously improve their function over time. Artificial neural networks can be effective in gathering and extracting the relevant information from big data, identify valuable trends, relationships and connections between the data, and then rely on the past outcomes and behaviors to help identify and implement the best marketing tactics and strategies.

Artificial Neural Networks For MarketingThe human brain consists of 100 billion cells called neurons. The neurons are connected together by synapses. If sufficient synaptic inputs to a neuron fire, that neuron will also fire. This process is called “thinking”.

Artificial neural networks are a form of computer program modeled after the way the human brain and nervous system works. It is not necessary to model the biological complexity of the human brain at a molecular level, just its higher level rules.

Common practical uses of Neural Networks are for character recognition, image classification, speech recognition, facial recognition, etc. They are also used for Predictive Analytics. Read our article on HOW LEADING TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES ARE USING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING.

Artificial Neural Networks(ANN) are a series of interconnected artificial processing neurons functioning in unison to achieve desirable outcomes.

Artificial neurons are elementary units in an artificial neural network. Each artificial neuron receives one or more inputs and sums them to produce an output. Think of artificial neurons as simple storage containers.

Artificial Neural Networks are comprised of three main parts: the input layer, the hidden layer, and the output layer. Note that you can have n hidden layers. The term “deep” learning implies multiple hidden layers. Each layer is a one dimensional array.

During processing each input is separately weighted, and the sum is passed through a non-linear function known as an activation function or transfer function to the next set of artificial neurons.

Using trial and error learning methods neural networks detect patterns existing within a data set ignoring data that is not significant, while emphasizing the data which is most influential.

From a marketing perspective, neural networks are a form of software tool used to assist in decision making. Neural networks are effective in gathering and extracting information from large data sources and identify the cause and effect within data. These neural nets through the process of learning, identify relationships and connections between databases. Once knowledge has been accumulated, neural networks can be relied on to provide generalizations and can apply past knowledge and learning to a variety of situations.

Neural networks help fulfill the role of marketing companies through effectively aiding in market segmentation and measurement of performance while reducing costs and improving accuracy. Due to their learning ability, flexibility, adaption and knowledge discovery, neural networks offer many advantages over traditional models. Neural networks can be used to assist in pattern classification, forecasting and marketing analysis.


How Leading Technology Companies Are Using Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

Artificial Intelligence looks for patterns, learns from experience, and predicts responses based on historical data. Artificial Intelligence is able to learn new things at incredible speeds. Artificial Intelligence can be used to accurately predict your behavior and preempt your requests.

Artificial Intelligence And Machine LearningArtificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are shaping many of the products and services you interact with every day. In future blog posts I will be discussing how Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, and Predictive Analytics are being used by Marketers to achieve competitive advantage.

AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) ability to simulate human thinking means it can streamline our lives. It can preempt our needs and requests, making products and services more user friendly as machines learn our needs and figure out how to serve us better.

Here are how some of the top companies are using Artificial Intelligence.

Google

Google is investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Google acquired the AI company DeepMind for the energy consumption, digital health and general purpose Artificial Intelligence programs. It is integrating it into many of its products and services. They are primarily using TensorFlow – an open source software library for high performance numerical computation. They are using Artificial Intelligence and pattern recognition to improve their core search services. Google is also using AI and machine learning for their facial recognition services, and for natural language processing to power their real-time language translation. Google Assistant uses Artificial Antelligence, as does the Google Home series of smart home products, like the Nest thermostat. Google is using a TensorFlow model in Gmail to understand the context of an email and predict likely replies. They call this feature “Smart Replies.” After acquiring more than 50 AI startups in 2015-16, this seems like only the beginning for Google’s AI agenda. You can learn more about Google’s AI projects here: ai.google/.

Amazon

Amazon has been investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence for over 20 years. Amazon’s approach to AI is called a “flywheel”. At Amazon, the flywheel approach keeps AI innovation humming along and encourages energy and knowledge to spread to other areas of the company. Amazon’s flywheel approach means that innovation around machine learning in one area of the company fuels the efforts of other teams. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning (ML) algorithms drive many of their internal systems. Artificial Intelligence is also core to their customer experience – from Amazon.com’s recommendations engine that is used to analyze and predict your shopping patterns, to Echo powered by Alexa, and the path optimization in their fulfillment centers. Amazon’s mission is to share their Artificial Intellgience and Machine Learning capabilities as fully managed services, and put them into the hands of every developer and data scientist on Amazon Web Services(AWS). Learn more about Amazon Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Facebook

Facebook has come under fire for their widespread use of Artificial Intelligence analytics to target users for marketing and messaging purposes, but they remain committed to advancing the field of machine intelligence and are creating new technologies to give people better ways to communicate. They have also come under fire for not doing enough to moderate content on their platform. Billions of text posts, photos, and videos are uploaded to Facebook every day. It is impossible for human moderators to comprehensively sift through that much content. Facebook uses artificial intelligence to suggest photo tags, populate your newsfeed, and detect bots and fake users. A new system, codenamed “Rosetta,” helps teams at Facebook and Instagram identify text within images to better understand what their subject is and more easily classify them for search or to flag abusive content. Facebook’s Rosetta system scans over a billion images and video frames daily across multiple languages in real time. Learn more about Facebook AI Research. Facebook also has several Open Source Tools For Advancing The World’s AI.

Microsoft

Microsoft added Research and AI as their fourth silo alongside Office, Windows, and Cloud, with the stated goal of making broad-spectrum AI application more accessible and everyday machines more intelligent. Microsoft is integrating Artificial Intelligence into a broad range of Microsoft products and services. Cortana is powered by machine learning, allowing the virtual assistant to build insight and expertise over time. AI in Office 365 helps users expand their creativity, connect to relevant information, and surface new insights. Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications that use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to analyze data to improve your business processes and deliver predictive analytics. Bing is using advances in Artificial Intelligence to make it even easier to find what you’re looking for. Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Computing Services has a wide portfolio of AI productivity tools and services. Microsoft’s Machine Learning Studio is a powerfully simple browser-based, visual drag-and-drop authoring environment where no coding is necessary.

Apple

Apple is the most tight-lipped among top technology companies about their AI research. Siri was one of the first widely used examples of Artificial Intelligence used by consumers. Apple had a head start, but appears to have fallen behind their competitors. Apple’s Artificial Intelligence strategy continues to be focused on running workloads locally on devices, rather than running them on cloud-based resources like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft do. This is consistent with Apple’s stance on respecting User Privacy. Apple believes their approach has some advantages. They have a framework called Create ML that app makers can use to train AI models on Macs. Create ML is the Machine Learning framework used across Apple products, including Siri, Camera, and QuickType. Apple has also added Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to its Core ML software allowing developers to easily incorporate AI models into apps for iPhones and other Apple devices. It remains to be seen if Apple can get developers using the Create ML technology, but given the number of Apple devices consumers have, I expect they will get some traction with it.

These are just a few examples of how leading technology companies are using artificial intelligence to improve the products and services we use everyday.


Facebook Usage Declines

42% of Facebook users say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more. 26% say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone.

42 Percent of Facebook Users Taking A BreakAccording to Pew Research Facebook users continue to reduce the amount of time they are spending on the platform. Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year.

The findings come from a Pew Research survey of U.S. adults conducted May 29, 2018 through June 11, 2018.

Younger Facebook Users Adjusting Privacy SettingsThere are, however, age differences in the share of Facebook users who have recently taken some of these actions. Most notably, 44% of younger users (those ages 18 to 29) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year, nearly four times the share of users ages 65 and older (12%) who have done so. Similarly, older users are much less likely to say they have adjusted their Facebook privacy settings in the past 12 months: Only a third of Facebook users 65 and older have done this, compared with 64% of younger users. In earlier research, Pew Research Center has found that a larger share of younger than older adults use Facebook. Still, similar shares of older and younger users have taken a break from Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.

42 percent of the audience not using the platform should translate to fewer daily active users. More than half of the audience changing the privacy settings should mean less opportunity for accurate ad targeting, and lower efficiency of advertising on Facebook.

Full Article at Pew Research.


Latent Semantic Indexing – Does It Help SEO?

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) are techniques in natural language processing to analyze relationships between a set of documents and the terms they contain by producing a set of concepts related to the documents and terms.

Latent Semantic Indexing - Does It Help SEO?

I thought it might be helpful to explore the concept of Latent Semantic Indexing and its impact on Search Engine Optimization(SEO). If you research Search Enginge Optimization Techniques you are likely to come across some articles on Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) or Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA). There is some debate on the effectiveness of creating content designed to appeal to LSI algorithms to improve organic search results placement. My position is that by understanding LSI / LSA you are able to create better content, regardless of whether it improves organic search results on Google, Bing, etc.

What Is Latent Semantic Indexing?

In simple terms, Latent Semantic Indexing allows a search engine to include pages with the text “Home For Sale” in the search results for the search term “House For Sale.” That is because “Home” and “House” are related terms. LSI is a technique that reveals underlying concepts of content by means of synonyms and related words. It is basically using data correlation to find related terms. (see article: A Primer On Data Correlation For Marketers). Latent Semantic Indexing finds hidden (latent) relationships between words (semantics) in order to improve information understanding (indexing).

Latent Semantic Indexing As SEO Strategy

It has been suggested that using synonyms and related terms in optimized website content could help a search engine better understand the content and rank it higher in search results. The idea is to take your target keywords or search term and indentify a list of “LSI Keywords” to include in the content.

Search engines attempt to understand the context of any piece of content they index. The field of semantics (the study of meaning in language) is a fundamental part of this approach.

While it is believed that search engines relied heavily on LSI in the early stages of their development, there is no evidence that the Google and Bing rely heavily on it now.

Why Condisder LSI As Part Of Your Content Strategy?

My opinion is that you should focus on creating good quality content on website vs. trying to game Google or Bing with optimization techniques. As part of my content strategies, I use a basic understand of Latent Semantic Analysis to create better content. Different people may use different terms to describe the same topic, and by including these related terms it can make the content more relevent to the reader. I also use LSA to make sure I am not overusing the primary keywords or search term. I use LSA to come up with derivative articles that are related to the primary article. An effective SEO strategy should also include relevant backlinks, relevant alt tags, etc.

In summary, I am not convinced that using Latent Semantic Analysis will improve your search rankings, but I feel it can improve your content.


Video Resolution and Image Megapixels Requirements

Understanding image output requirements ensures you select the right equipment for capturing video and photographic content, and helps properly estimate storage and post production resources needed to deliver a quality product.

I had a project recently(early 2018) where I needed to deliver numerous videos and photographic images for marketing purposes. The images needed to be suitable for both the Internet, and for printing.

I was asked to evaluate the current state of the market for 4K Video Production, and current trends for digital marketing.

I needed to estimate storage needs(cloud based & local), and determine what equipment to purchase to capture the video and still images, and for post production editing.

I am turning my research on the subject into a blog post for future reference.

Starting with video, I researched resolution of current video standards. The first graphic shows the relative size difference of various video formats.

Video Resolution Megapixels

If you’re planning your next shoot or looking into a video marketing investment, you’ve probably considered 4K or higher. Over the past few years, 4K video has gained quite a bit of popularity.

Youtube started supporting 4K at 60fps video uploads in 2013, and 8K video uploads in 2015. Although understandably small as a proportion of the whole YouTube ingest profile, these formats are still significant and we noticed that the take-up is accelerating.

We were hoping to standardize on 4K video until we discovered that 1 minute of 4K video uncompressed is 32GB in size. 20 minutes of video filmed at 1080, using the Apple ProRes 422 HQ codec, will take about 20 GB of storage space. Using the same codec, 20 minutes of 4K video will take about 200 GB of space.

I would be filming several interviews plus lots of B-roll which would result in several terabytes of raw video files.

Since none of our existing video cameras and drones could capture 4K video, this meant purchasing all new video equipment. After estimating the cost to capture and edit 4K video we elected to go with Full HD(1920 x 1080) for now(early 2018).

I know I will be moving to 4K video in the near future.

I also had a requirement that our photographs were to be used in print campaigns. Some material would be printed at 300dpi, while other material required 600dpi.

I had to ensure that our images were being captured and stored at high enough resolutions to support printing at 600dpi without upscaling or pixel interpolation.

The following table illustrates the pixel resolution we need to support different size prints at different dot per inch targets.

Megapixels Pixel Resolution* Print Size @ 600ppi Print size @ 300ppi Print size @ 150ppi**
3 2048 x 1536 3.41″ x 2.56″ 6.82″ x 5.12″ 13.65″ x 10.24″
4 2464 x 1632 4.12″ x 2.72″ 8.21″ x 5.44″ 16.42″ x 10.88″
6 3008 x 2000 5.01″ x 3.34″ 10.02″ x 6.67″ 20.05″ x 13.34″
8 3264 x 2448 5.44″ x 4.08″ 10.88″ x 8.16″ 21.76″ x 16.32″
10 3872 x 2592 6.46″ x 4.32″ 12.91″ x 8.64″ 25.81″ x 17.28″
12 4290 x 2800 7.15″ x 4.67″ 14.30″ x 9.34″ 28.60″ x 18.67″
16 4920 x 3264 8.20″ x 5.44″ 16.40″ x 10.88″ 32.80″ x 21.76″
20(35mm film, scanned) 5380 x 3620 8.97″ x 6.03″ 17.93″ x 12.06″ 35.87″ x 24.13″
24  6016 x 4016  10.03″ x 6.69″  20.05″ x 13.39″   40.01″ x 26.78″
36 7360 x 4912 12.27″ x 8.19″ 24.53″ x 16.37″ 49.06″ x 32.74″

*Typical Resolution. Actual pixel dimensions vary from camera to camera.

**At 150ppi, printed images will have visible pixels and details will look “fuzzy”.

Each colored box represents a certain number of megapixels. The numbers along the top and left side are print dimensions in inches at 300ppi (pixels per inch). Most books and magazines require 300ppi for photo quality. For example, the chart shows that you can make a 5″ x 7″ photo quality print from a 3 megapixel camera.

inches @ 300ppi (numbers inside colored boxes are megapixels)

Print Megapixels Required

Notice that as the print size doubles, the megapixels required increases geometrically. You can make nice 8″ x 10″ prints with a 6 or 8 megapixel camera, but to make a true photo quality 16″ x 20″ print, you need between 24 and 30 megapixels. Don’t be fooled by manufacturers’ claims that say you can make 16″ x 20″ prints from an 8 megapixel camera. While you certainly can make a print that size, it will not be true photo quality.

Having gone through this exercise I was able to estimate what new equipment we would need, set some standards for capturing videos and images, and procure the required resources to edit and store the digital assets.

Category : BriteWire Blog