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How Google Is Making YouTube Safer For Its Users

YouTube use is encrypted almost all the time now.

Google now encrypts almost all the traffic flowing from YouTube, the company said in a Monday blog post.

In the post, Google software engineer Sean Watson and product manager Jon Levine said 97% of YouTube’s traffic is now accessible with the “https” web address prefix that denotes extra security.

In effect, this stops others from being able to spy on a YouTube user’s detailed activities on the video site. Unencrypted video streams can also be hijacked by criminals or intelligence agencies to deliver malware onto the viewer’s computer.

Why isn’t YouTube entirely encrypted now? “In short, some devices do not fully support modern HTTPS,” Watson and Levine wrote. “Over time, to keep YouTube users as safe as possible, we will gradually phase out insecure connections.”

The range of devices people use to access YouTube was one of the factors that the team had to deal with, as it rolled out encryption over the past two years.

As the post noted, people use the service on everything from flip-phones to smart TVs, and all those devices needed to be tested to make sure that switching from old-school HTTP to the safer HTTPS didn’t break things.

Another factor was the sheer amount of video that needed to be migrated to the safer standard on Google’s content delivery networks.

“In the real world, we know that any non-secure HTTP traffic could be vulnerable to attackers. All websites and apps should be protected with HTTPS,” Watson and Levine wrote.

Now that YouTube is almost all encrypted, Google has added the service to its HTTPS transparency report, which keeps track of the company’s progress in boosting the security of its various services.

Source: Fortune. Article by David Meyer (http://fortune.com/2016/08/02/google-youtube-encryption-https/)

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Snapchat Users Watch 800 Hours of Content Every Second

Snapchat is rising up the social media ranks to become the content king, ruling the internet from the bandwidth throne. It’s users consume nearly 800 hours of video per second, mainlining countless clips of of dog face filter videos, face swaps, and highly questionable Bob Marley tributes.

For some context, 800 hours is the same amount of time it would take to watch all 60 Game of Thrones episodes back to back 14 and a half times, or travel from LA to San Fransisco 960 times on the future hyperloop. Snapchat users are collectively racking that much video-watching in one second, according to a collection of data from digital marketing agency Go Fish Digital.

In the four or so years since it was founded, Snapchat has grown into a social media juggernaut that rivals Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. It’s third in total hours of video consumed per second, behind only Facebook and YouTube. The latter isn’t entirely comparable — the site is dedicated solely to video, after all but Facebook is only slightly ahead of Snapchat at 1,157 hours of video consumed per second, and that’s with 16 times Snapchat’s 100 million monthly active users. Snapchat’s user base is niche enough that media organizations still feel the need to publish articles titled “How to use the Snapchat app all the millennials are talking about” on the exact same day Go Fish published its Snapchat statistics.

Part of Snapchat’s numbers reveal people’s desire for private person-to-person communication. Go Fish found that half of college Snappers use the app because it’s a good way to stay in touch that’s often easier than texting. Their research also found that only two percent use Snapchat for sexting, although it’s hard to imagine anyone seriously answering “sexting” when questioned by a data surveyor.

Snapchat is also focusing on pushing sponsored content, making brands and advertisers stories easier for users to watch and pumping up their own financial value at the same time. It’s rapidly growing user base (especially among the 18-24 age range) is a bloated crowd of dollar signs to Snapchat’s owners and investors.

Snapchat has kept up with its growth by adding features like subscriptions, memories, and in-app advertisements. Its valuation has soared from $5 million in 2012 to $20 billion in 2016. It already surpassed Twitter’s flagging user number, and has set its sights on beating Facebook next.

Snapchat’s speedy rise seems unstoppable. Unless, of course, all those millennials talking about it have already moved on to Pokemon Go.

Source: Inverse. Article by Nickolaus Hines (https://www.inverse.com/article/18245-snapchat-users-watch-800-hours-of-content-every-second)

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FILE - This May 21, 2013 file photo shows an iPhone in Washington with Twitter, Facebook, and other apps. Tired of that friend or relative who won't stop posting or tweeting political opinions? Online loudmouths may be annoying, but a new survey suggests they are in the minority. In a report released Tuesday, the Pew Research Center found that most people who regularly use social media sites were actually less likely to share their opinions, even offline.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Majority of US Adults Get News From Social Media

Sixty-two percent of US adults now get news from social media sources, according to a Pew Research study published today. Reddit has the largest number of users who say they get their news on the site at 70 percent, followed by Facebook users at 66 percent and Twitter at 59 percent.

The numbers drop off from there, with just 31 percent of Tumblr users and 19 percent of LinkedIn users saying they get news from those sites. Pew also found that a majority of people (64 percent) get news on just one social media site—most commonly Facebook.

The study was conducted from Jan. 12 to Feb. 8, 2016, and surveyed 4,654 participants about their online news habits. Many of its questions were related to specific platforms and news discovery methods.

“YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram news users are more likely to get their news online mostly by chance, when they are online doing other things,” the survey found. Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn users, however, are more likely to seek out news online.

Facebook has rapidly solidified its status as a news source. Three years ago, another Pew study found that 47 percent of its users got news from the social networking site, representing approximately 30 percent of the US population.

At its F8 developers conference last month, Facebook introduced an expansion of its Instant Articles feature, which reduces the load time of articles posted by participating publishers. Facebook also curates its own “Trending” section for breaking news, though that has been criticized for prioritizing politically liberal topics.

Twitter has also made efforts to boost its news content. It now classifies its mobile app in the “news” category of the iOS App Store, instead of its previous home in the social media category. Since publishers self-identify the category in which their app is listed, the move was likely intended to boost Twitter’s App Store rankings.

Source: PC Mag. Article by Tom Brant (http://www.pcmag.com/news/344783/majority-of-us-adults-get-news-from-social-media)

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PayPal is shutting down its Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Amazon apps

PayPal is thinning the number of mobile operating systems supported by the company’s flagship app down to just two: Android and iOS. The PayPal mobile apps for Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Amazon’s Fire OS will be discontinued as of June 30th.

It’s fairly common to see these decisions for Windows Phone and BlackBerry, but a little less regular to see a company of PayPal’s stature just up and abandon Amazon’s fork of Android, which runs on Kindle Fire tablets and the failed Fire Phone. PayPal doesn’t offer much of an explanation for the decision, but claims it’ll lead to better apps for the remaining platforms. “It was a difficult decision to no longer support the PayPal app on these mobile platforms,” said Joanna Lambert, PayPal’s VP of consumer product, in an announcement on the company’s blog. “But we believe it’s the right thing to ensure we are investing our resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers.”

PayPal is quick to point out that despite being left without a native app, affected users will still have full access to PayPal’s mobile website for account management and money transactions. There are other options, too; BlackBerry users can still send peer-to-peer payments with PayPal through BBM. And on the Windows side, Outlook.com users can enable the PayPal add-in to send payments right from the email app.

“We remain committed to partnering with mobile device providers, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our customers,” Lambert said. PayPal claims that putting a sharper focus on just the two apps will allow the company to “innovate and make enhancements to PayPal’s mobile experiences to give our customers the best possible ways to manage and move their money.”

Source: The Verge, Article by Chris Welch (http://www.theverge.com/2016/5/25/11777422/paypal-killing-windows-phone-blackberry-fire-os-apps)

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