Weekly Wins January 17, 2020

Facebook Bans Deepfakes

Here’s everything you need to know about the latest in tech and digital news:

Facebook decided to ban deepfakes amidst the US 2020 election, Instagram released some new Boomerang features very similar to TikTok 🤔, Spotify can now make playlists for your pets, there are now #MeTooBots combating workplace harassment and last, but certainly not least, Netflix dominated the 2020 Academy Award nominations. Yes, like your high school English teacher may have said, there’s a lot to unpack here. So, pour yourself a drink, get comfortable, and enjoy our Weekly Wins!

1. Facebook’s Deepfake Ban

Facebook announced its deepfake ban amid the 2020 US elections; this comes as a response to misinformation and fake news that was a prevalent problem during the 2016 US elections. Deepfakes are manipulated images using artificial intelligence technology which allows users to place a face onto someone’s body. The concept can be used for fun, but it can also be harmful when it becomes believable enough. The company’s decision was made to prohibit deepfakes from being used for political purposes, although they have made parody and satire an exception to the ban. How the company plans on spotting the difference between satire and political misinformation is not clear, although it is a good first step into combating fake news and misinformation on social media. Many agree that more needs to be done, with deepfakes not being the sole issue of fake news, as well as the fact that politicians themselves can upload manipulated information.

Deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg.

2. Instagram’s New Features

Do you find yourself getting bored with the same old Boomerang Instagram feature? Well, good news: Instagram just announced 3 new Boomerang effects for Instagram stories. The effects will include Slowmo, Echo and Duo.  Slowmo lets users slow down their boomerang speed, Echo will allow users to create a double-vision effect and Duo will create a glitch which speeds up and slows down the Boomerang. These may sound familiar, and that’s because the effects are very similar to Instagram’s competitor TikTok. TikTok has recently become increasingly popular, with millions of downloads around the world, so it’s no wonder Instagram wants to create similar features to keep users from moving away from the app. Users will likely continue using both apps, though, because they are ultimately different and appeal to different generations.

Instagram's New Boomerang Effects.

3.  #MeTooBots are Fighting Workplace Harassment

 NexLP has developed #MetooBots. The bots are designed to flag workplace harassment found on messaging applications such as Slack, or work emails. Once the AI detects harassment, whether it’s bullying or unsolicited sexual photos, the message gets flagged and sent to the company’s HR department. While it’s a great step to combat workplace harassment, it can’t exactly fix the problem of harassment in the workplace. People can use other platforms, and let’s not forget there’s also in-person workplace harassment which can be even more harmful towards someone. The bots may also flag things that aren’t inappropriate or harassment, and get someone innocent into trouble. With all that considered, it can still be a helpful tool and may make potential perpetrators think twice about online workplace harassment. 

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, bots will be surveilling work messages.

4. Spotify for Pets

Spotify has released new curated playlists for your pets. The music streaming service has also released podcasts for dogs that feature calming sounds for when your dog is alone and anxious. Users can customize their pet’s playlists by answering questions about their pet’s characteristics: in turn, Spotify creates a playlist for the pet, that can create feelings of calmness. The main purpose of the pet-playlists is for the pets to feel less anxious when left alone. Spotify consulted animal psychologists, who state that dogs can feel less stressed and sleep better when listening to soothing sounds or music. This is also a strategic move for Spotify because it differentiates themselves from their main competitor Apple Music. It seems it’s a win for pets, owners and Spotify.

Spotify for your pets.

5. Netflix Dominates the Oscar Nominations

Streaming services are already taking over the television industry, and now, the film industry may be changing too. Netflix earned over 20 Academy Award nominations, with films The Irishman and Marriage Story earning the most. The studio got the most nominations at 24, with Sony falling shortly behind with 20 nominations. This is a significant change from last year, as Netflix’s only nomination was for the film Roma. The streaming service is likely going to continue producing Oscar-worthy films, which will continue to change the film industry into popularizing streaming. This will also impact film watchers, as it is much more accessible to watch a movie on Netflix than it is to go to a movie theatre. Whether they will win or not is up for debate, so tune in on February 9th to see if Netflix is about to change the entire film industry.

Netflix films "The Irishman" and "Marriage Story" were Netflix's most nominated films.

These words are by Katarina Vidojevic

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