Crunch Report | Google and Tencent ink patent agreement

Google inks a patent deal with Tencent, Tile lays off 30 people and Apple hires the tech team from Silicon Valley Data Science (SVDS). All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Google CEO: ‘I don’t regret’ firing James Damore

 Google CEO Sundar Pichai says he still believes that it was appropriate to fire James Damore. “I don’t regret it,” said Pichai, in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Ari Melber. It’s been almost six months since the company dismissed the engineer, who authored a controversial memo about purported gender differences. Read More

Malicious Chrome extension is next to impossible to manually remove

Proving once again that Google Chrome extensions are the Achilles heel of what’s arguably the Internet’s most secure browser, a researcher has documented a malicious add-on that tricks users into installing it and then, he said, is nearly impossible for most to manually uninstall. It was available for download on Google servers until Wednesday, 19 days after it was privately reported to Google security officials, a researcher said.

Once installed, an app called “Tiempo en colombia en vivo” prevents users from accessing the list of installed Chrome extensions by redirecting requests to chrome://apps/?r=extensions instead of chrome://extensions/, the page that lists all installed extensions and provides an interface for temporarily disabling or uninstalling them. Malwarebytes researcher Pieter Arntz said he experimented with a variety of hacks—including disabling JavaScript in the browser, starting Chrome with all extensions disabled, and renaming the folder where extensions are stored—none of them worked. Removing the extension proved so difficult that he ultimately advised users to run the free version of Malwarebytes and let it automatically remove the add-on.

When Arntz installed the extension on a test machine, Chrome spontaneously clicked on dozens of YouTube videos, an indication that inflating the number of views was among the things it did. The researcher hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the add-on did more malicious things because the amount of obfuscated JavaScript it contained made a comprehensive analysis too time consuming. The researcher provided additional details in a blog post published Thursday.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google inks patent deal with Tencent

 Google has yet more news from China after the U.S. search firm announced a patent cross-licensing agreement with Chinese tech giant Tencent. The terms were not disclosed, but Google said the tie-in with Tencent, which is valued at over $500 billion, covers “a broad range of products and technologies” and is “long-term.” The two firms pledged to work together on… Read More

YouTube is pulling Tide Pod Challenge videos

 YouTube appears to be trying to get ahead of any wider societal outcry over (yet more) algorithmically accelerated idiocy on its platform — and is removing Tide Pod Challenge videos. Read More

Google is investing in Indonesia-based Uber rival Go-Jek

 Google is back investing in ride-hailing companies. The U.S. search firm and China’s Meituan-Dianping are among the tech giants set to invest in Go-Jek, the Indonesia-based rival to Grab and Uber, a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch. We understand a deal could be completed as soon as next week, though whether Go-Jek announces it is unclear since it has history of… Read More

Google is rolling out a fix for those Home-related Wi-Fi issues

 In the latest of a recent spate of bugs plaguing Google’s most recent hardware offerings, a number of Home and Chromecast users have been reporting issues around their devices’ Wi-Fi connectivity this week. Google has since acknowledged the issue on its support page, noting that “In certain situations, a bug in the Cast software on Android phones may incorrectly send a… Read More

Google makes massive changes to YouTube advertising rules in latest clean-up effort

Google is making the biggest changes to the advertising rules on YouTube since the video site’s inception, another attempt to clean up its content and answer persistent complaints from advertisers.

YouTube will now impose stricter criteria for the types of videos that can earn money on the site and will introduce a new vetting process for the top-shelf videos it offers advertisers, the company said Tuesday in a statement. In the past year, YouTube has dealt with a series of firestorms, starting last March when ads were found next to violent and racist videos, leading several advertisers to pull their business.

But problems persisted. Bloomberg reported last week that Alphabet Inc.’s Google had discussed some of the new changes with partners last week following alarming revelations about YouTube videos featuring children. Google doesn’t publicly report YouTube revenue, but frequently cites the world’s largest video site as one of its fastest-growing businesses.

In April, after an ad boycott began, YouTube raised the cap for splitting revenue with video creators, requiring these sites to have at least 10,000 views. Now, Google will only open advertising to YouTube channels with more than 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 viewing hours racked up over a year. The restrictions are designed to filter out offensive videos, although YouTube’s latest controversies have involved some of its most popular creators, like PewDiePie and Logan Paul.

“While that threshold provided more information to determine whether a channel followed our community guidelines and policies, it’s been clear over the last few months that we need a higher standard,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, and Neal Mohan, its product lead, said in a joint blog post.

As YouTube fielded complaints from advertisers, the company has defended itself by pointing to the number of creators that depend on the service for their livelihood. Some of those video creators reported as much as an 80 per cent drop in sales following YouTube’s tighter restrictions. In YouTube’s blog post, the company said that 99 per cent of the creators affected by the new changes earn less than US$100 a year from YouTube ads.

In addition to the new restrictions, YouTube is pledging that its staff of content moderators will screen every single video in Google Preferred, the company’s premium offering for marketers. Google said that the manual review process will be set up by the middle of February in the U.S. and by the end of March in other countries.

After the initial boycott, YouTube gave advertisers a slew of new controls to ensure their ads don’t run next to offensive content. However, similar issues occurred again, flaring up in the fall around content targeted to children.

“It’s different this time,” Eric Reynolds, chief marketing officer for Clorox Co., said in a phone interview about YouTube’s new policies. “It feels like a whole new level of commitment.” Reynolds said he had placed some of his marketing on YouTube on hold last year, but has now returned with higher levels of spending.

 

Bloomberg.com