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Apple and Google Release Updated Details on COVID-19 Tracing Process

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After many questions were raised about the new Google/Apple contact tracing API, which will enable hälsa authorities to send alerts to people who’ve potentially been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, the tech giants have meddelat some updates to the system, which they’re aiming to make available for use by regional health bodies early next month.

Den nya Google/Apple API will, potentially, be the largest data-tracking tool ever created, which understandably has put many privacy advocates on edge.

Through the process, all iOS and Android devices would be able to ‘communicate’ with one another for the purposes of contact tracing – so whomever you cross paths with in your day would be tagged in your phone’s history via anonymized data keys.

Google Apple tracing

It’s important to note here that no personal information is exchanged in this process. As you can see above, the system tracks data through “anonymous identifiers”, which, when a person is found to have the virus, can be used to alert all of the people that they’ve been in proximity to that they also need to self-isolate and/or visit a doctor.

Responding to early concerns, the system has now been uppdaterad with enhanced encryption of the exchanged data keys in order to avoid the potential identification of users.

As explained bt Gränsen:

“​Under the new encryption specification, daily tracing keys will now be randomly generated rather than mathematically derived from a user’s private key. Crucially, the daily tracing key is shared with the central database if a user decides to report their positive diagnosis.”

The new measures will ensure more security for users, while the system’s also being stripped of certain additional data elements that could, potentially, also be used to identify individuals. 

Apple has also published a new Q & A document on the process, which aims to address the key concerns raised around how the API will be used – and importantly, when it will be shut off.

Enligt Äpple:

Google and Apple can disable the exposure notification system on a regional basis when it is no longer needed.​”

Both companies have separately pledged to turn off the process for each region as required, and in conjunction with local health authorities.

The roll-out of the process will be in two stages, the first involving the download of a separate app, and the second added at a system level in each device, meaning a separate app won’t be needed for the process to be effective. The key to maximizing the value of the process is scale, so both companies are working to establish a solution which won’t require users to download a new app, necessarily – though they will still need to agree to the usage of their data for such purpose.

The update clarifies many of the concerns, but the issue of widespread location tracking and monitoring will remain. Again, an app that can trace users across both iOS and Android will essentially cover more than 97% of mobile devices in the world, which, as you can imagine, many government and illegitimate actors will also be keen to get their hands on for alternative purposes.

The value of contact tracing for the sake of containing COVID-19 will only become more important as we look to shift back into some level of normal activity, but the power of this combined process is significant.

Again, the data is anonymized, there’s no way, really, for a Government to use it beyond its intended purposes, at least as its framed at present. But the system is a significant step up in tracking capacity, and it could, at some stage, facilitate increasingly complex systems of tagging and monitoring citizens, if it’s adapted from this initial process.

Google and Apple are very aware of such concerns, and they’ll be working to solidify their protections in this respect. But it remains a concerning proposal in various respects. 

But then again, both Google and Apple are tracking the location data of most users via location services anyway, they technically have this information already. Maybe, it’s just that they’re being upfront about such that raises the alarm bells. 

You can read the new “Exposure Notification FAQ” from Apple här.

Socialmediatoday.com

SOCIAL

Ny rapport visar att unga användare i allt större utsträckning vänder sig till TikTok för nyhetsinnehåll

Publicerad

New Report Shows That Young Users are Increasingly Turning to TikTok for News Content

Amid ongoing concerns about its data gathering processes, and its possible linkage to the Chinese Government, TikTok’s influence continues to grow, with the platform now a key source of entertainment for many of its billion active users.

And it’s not just entertainment, TikTok is also increasingly being used for search, with Google reporting earlier this year that, by its estimates, around 40% of young people now turn to TikTok or Instagram to search for, say, restaurant recommendations, as opposed to Google Search or Maps.

And now, TikTok is also becoming a source of news and information, as more news organizations look to lean into the platform, and establish connection with the next generation of consumers.

That’s the focus of the latest report from the Reuters Institute, which looks at how people are using TikTok for news content, and which sources are playing a role in shaping their opinions in the app.

You can download the full, 38-page report här, and it’s well worth a read, but there are two specific elements that are worth highlighting to help better understand and contextualize the TikTok shift.

First off, there’s this chart, which looks at the percentage of people who are using TikTok for news content in each age bracket.

As you can see, younger users are increasingly turning to TikTok to stay informed of the latest news updates. Which is a significant shift, and not just for news publishers looking to connect with their audience, but also in terms of broader impacts, and how young audiences are staying in touch with the latest happenings.

Which then leads into this second chart:

Reuters social media news report

As you can see, it’s not mainstream news sources that are the primary sources of news content on TikTok, its ‘internet personalities’ followed by ‘ordinary people’, with traditional journalists and publications much further back.

That’s a significant trend, which could reflect a broader distrust of mainstream media outlets, and the information presented in the news as we know it.

Now, younger audiences are more reliant on their favorite influencers to act as a filter, of sorts, to help highlight the news of most relevance – which could be good, in that it facilitates a new angle on the big stories each day. But it could be bad, in that the news they present and discuss is then based on the personal bias of each influencer, which is arguably a less transparent process than mainstream news outlets.

But that also depends on your perspective. Journalists, for the most part, work to uphold standards of integrity in their reporting, in order to limit the influence of personal bias, and present the key information within their updates. But increasingly, many news outlets have leaned into more controversial takes and opinions. Because that’s what works best with social media algorithms – you’re going to generate much more engagement, and thus, reach, with a headline that says something like ‘The President hates farmers’ as opposed to a more balanced report on the latest agricultural policy.

Many outlets have essentially weaponized this, and seem to employ partisan takes as a key element in their coverage, again, in order to maximize reader response, to get people commenting and sharing, and prompt more clicks.

Which definitely works, but it’s this approach that’s likely turned many younger consumers away from mainstream coverage, while the rising use of TikTok overall means that, one way or another, they’re going to get at least some news content there anyway.

Which could be a concern. Again, amid ongoing questions about the influence of the Chinese Government on the app, it seems like it should be a significant consideration that more and more young people are leaning on the app to stay informed about the latest news topics.

De Rapportera also looks at how news publishers are using TikTok, and what specific approaches are driving the most success.

Their conclusion:

“There’s no single recipe for success. Many publishers use a strategy based on hiring young creators who are native to the platform and its vernacular. This approach has connected strongly with audiences and brought critical acclaim but can make it harder to re-version content for other social platforms. Others have focused on showcasing the assets of the entire newsroom, including more experienced correspondents and anchors, delivering greater scale and flexibility but often without the same personal touch.

So using platform-native influencers, and those more savvy with TikTok-specific trends, can help to increase engagement and performance. But there’s no definitive TikTok playbook, as such, that will lead to guaranteed, sustained success.

Which, in some ways, is because that’s not how TikTok is built. Unlike other social media apps, TikTok isn’t designed to get you to follow the people and companies that you like, in order to essentially curate your own experience.

On TikTok, the aim is to show you the most entertaining content, from anyone, in alignment with your personal interests, which you express by simply using the app. By expanding the pool of potential content to everybody, that gives TikTok’s algorithms a lot more ways to keep you glued to your feed – but the flipside is that it also makes it much harder for creators and brands to establish a following, and keep their audience coming back, as they can on other apps.

That puts more focus onto each post itself, and how entertaining your latest update is. Which is better for TikTok’s ecosystem in general, but it also means that there are more challenges in maintaining reach and resonance in the app.

That’s true for news organizations, but it’s also true for brands, because you can’t just get people to follow your brand in the app and hope that they’ll then see everything that you post.

On TikTok, it’s a new competition, every day, and if you’re not entertaining, and holding engagement with each update, you’re going to lose, on that day at least.

You can download the full Reuters Institute ‘How Publishers are Learning to Create and Distribute News on TikTok’ report här.

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