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Twitter acquires social podcasting app Breaker, team to help build Twitter Spaces

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Twitter has acquired social broadcasting app Breaker, the companies announced today via a combination of blog posts and tweets. The deal will see Breaker’s team joining Twitter to help “improve the health of the public conversation” on the service, as well as work on Twitter’s new audio-based networking project, Twitter Spaces. The Breaker app, however, will shut down on January 15, 2021.

Breaker announced the acquisition on its company blog, explaining why it believes its team will be a good fit at Twitter.

“Here at Breaker, we’re truly passionate about audio communication and we’re inspired by the ways Twitter is facilitating public conversations for people around the world,” wrote Breaker CEO Erik Berlin. “We’re impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit at Twitter and enthusiastic about the new experiences that the team is creating.”

Breaker was founded in 2016 and is led by both CEO Berlin, previously the founder and CTO at social advertising company 140 Proof (which sold to Acuity), and CTO Leah Culver, who previously founded Pownce and Grove and co-authored web technologies OAuth and oEmbed.

The app had launched at a time when podcasts were still very much thought of as audio feeds and podcast apps as productivity tools — not experiences around which a community could be built. Breaker helped to change that perception by offering an app where users could like and comment on episodes, discover new podcasts by following friends, share favorite shows to social media and much more.

According to Culver’s tweet, she’ll be joining Twitter with a focus on Twitter Spaces, Twitter’s audio-based social networking product and Clubhouse rival. Spaces lets Twitter users chat in real time using voice instead of text, as they do today. The new product entered beta testing in December. Twitter is currently trying to work out not only the technical issues and bugs with the feature, but also the more complex issues that arise from hosting live audio, including moderation.

In a separate tweet, Twitter Engineering lead Michael Montano confirmed that Berlin, Culver and Breaker designer Emma Lundin will all be moving to Twitter as a result of the deal.

He also praised both Berlin and Culver’s entrepreneurial spirit as well as Culver’s push for open standards over the years.

Reached for comment, Twitter pointed to Montano’s tweet but offered no further details on the acquisition, price or broader plans.

Breaker says it will close in a matter of days its apps and services it built over the past years.

On January 15, 2021, Breaker will shut down for good. Up until that point, Breaker users will be able to export their OPML file to transfer their subscriptions to another podcasting app. Breaker recommends apps like Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts or Castro as an alternative. For those hosting a podcast on Breaker, these can be transferred elsewhere via the RSS feed.

The Breaker acquisition adds to a string of recent podcast M&A activity. But unlike recent deals that involved podcast content, Breaker’s sale is made up of staff and technology, not podcasts themselves. This maps to Twitter’s general focus on collating content from others instead of making its own.

The Breaker deal, with its unannounced price, feels modest. Which means that while the company’s exit to Big Tweet is another point on the board for podcasting companies finding their way to some sort of payout, it fits the general narrative that podcasting services and podcasting content only has so much value.

The acquisition follows other podcast content deals in recent weeks and months, including Amazon’s $300 million acquisition of Wondery, Sirius buying Stitcher for $300 million, not to mention all the content deals Spotify has picked up as of late.

That another podcast service sold for around $300 million has become a running joke. That number, while impressive-sounding to the individual, is not the sort of exit that venture capitalists target. The Breaker-Twitter tie-up, then, doesn’t push back on the idea that building a company focused on podcasting is to admit to a future that will have capped future upside.

Whether venture capitalists pull back from podcasting investments in 2021 is not yet clear, but Breaker’s sale does little to argue that private investors shouldn’t.

The real winner in the Breaker deal is Twitter, as it gains key talent as it enters what is shaping up to be a buzzy new market in 2021 for voice-based social networking — an idea whose time has come, perhaps, thanks to people being stuck at home amid a pandemic. Without conferences and parties to attend, many went in search of better ways to connect online.

But it remains to be seen if Twitter — a service that has publicly struggled with online toxicity and moderation failures — will be able to make audio networking a safe place for users to chat, or if it will amplify Twitter’s existing challenges in these areas. It also remains to be seen if voice-based networking will have a future in a reopened, post-COVID world where we can once again meet others in real-world, public places, instead of Twitter Spaces.

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What can ChatGPT do?

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ChatGPT Explained

ChatGPT is a large language model developed by OpenAI that is trained on a massive amount of text data. It is capable of generating human-like text and has been used in a variety of applications, such as chatbots, language translation, and text summarization.

One of the key features of ChatGPT is its ability to generate text that is similar to human writing. This is achieved through the use of a transformer architecture, which allows the model to understand the context and relationships between words in a sentence. The transformer architecture is a type of neural network that is designed to process sequential data, such as natural language.

Another important aspect of ChatGPT is its ability to generate text that is contextually relevant. This means that the model is able to understand the context of a conversation and generate responses that are appropriate to the conversation. This is accomplished by the use of a technique called “masked language modeling,” which allows the model to predict the next word in a sentence based on the context of the previous words.

One of the most popular applications of ChatGPT is in the creation of chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation and can be used in customer service, sales, and other applications. ChatGPT is particularly well-suited for this task because of its ability to generate human-like text and understand context.

Another application of ChatGPT is language translation. By training the model on a large amount of text data in multiple languages, it can be used to translate text from one language to another. The model is able to understand the meaning of the text and generate a translation that is grammatically correct and semantically equivalent.

In addition to chatbots and language translation, ChatGPT can also be used for text summarization. This is the process of taking a large amount of text and condensing it into a shorter, more concise version. ChatGPT is able to understand the main ideas of the text and generate a summary that captures the most important information.

Despite its many capabilities and applications, ChatGPT is not without its limitations. One of the main challenges with using language models like ChatGPT is the risk of generating text that is biased or offensive. This can occur when the model is trained on text data that contains biases or stereotypes. To address this, OpenAI has implemented a number of techniques to reduce bias in the training data and in the model itself.

In conclusion, ChatGPT is a powerful language model that is capable of generating human-like text and understanding context. It has a wide range of applications, including chatbots, language translation, and text summarization. While there are limitations to its use, ongoing research and development is aimed at improving the model’s performance and reducing the risk of bias.

** The above article has been written 100% by ChatGPT. This is an example of what can be done with AI. This was done to show the advanced text that can be written by an automated AI.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is

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survey-says:-amazon,-google-more-trusted-with-your-personal-data-than-apple-is-–-phonearena
 

MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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