TikTok announced this morning it’s taking a new approach to its “For You” feed — the short-form video app’s main feed, powered by its algorithmic recommendations. The company already detailed how its algorithm works to suggest videos based on users’ engagement patterns within its app, but admits that too much of a particular content category can be “problematic.” The company now says it’s working to implement new technology to interrupt “repetitive patterns” on its app and is also developing a tool that would allow users to have a say in the matter by letting them pick which topics they want to avoid.
The company explains in its announcement that “too much of anything, whether it’s animals, fitness tips, or personal well-being journeys, doesn’t fit with the diverse discovery experience we aim to create.” However, TikTok isn’t diversifying its algorithm because people are complaining of seeing one too many cute puppy videos — it’s doing so because regulators are cracking down on tech and questioning the harmful impacts of unchecked recommendation algorithms, particularly when it comes to teen mental health.
Facebook and Instagram execs, along with those from other social platforms, have been hauled into Congress and questioned about how their apps have been directing users to dangerous content — including to topics like pro-anorexia and eating disorder content, for example.
TikTok, in its announcement, makes mention of the types of videos that could be harmful if viewed in excess, including things like “extreme dieting or fitness,” “sadness” and “breakups”-themed videos. While a user who shows interest in videos of this nature may find them interesting, the algorithm isn’t yet smart enough to know that directing the user to more of the same, repeatedly, could actually do the user harm. This problem is not limited to TikTok, of course. Across the board, it’s becoming clear that systems designed only to increase user engagement through automated means will do so at the expense of users’ mental health. While Congress is currently most interested in how these systems impact young people, some studies, though debated, have indicated that unchecked recommendations algorithms may also play a role in radicalizing users who could be drawn to extreme views.
TikTok says it will also test new ways to avoid recommending a series of similar content when users watch and engage with videos in these potentially harmful types of videos. But it only offered examples of the types of videos it would limit, not a full list.
In addition, the company said it’s developing technology that will help it to recognize when a user’s “For You” page isn’t very diverse. While the user may not be watching videos that actually violate TikTok’s policies, the company said that viewing “very limited types of content…could have a negative effect if that’s the majority of what someone watches, such as content about loneliness or weight loss.”
Another strategy TikTok plans to roll out includes a new feature that would allow people to direct the algorithm themselves. They would be able to use this feature to choose words or hashtags associated with content they don’t want to see in their “For You” feed. This would be in addition to TikTok’s existing tools to flag videos you don’t like by tapping “Not Interested,” for example.
To be clear, TikTok’s announcement today is only about laying out a roadmap of its plans, not the actual launch of such changes and features. Instead, it’s an attempt to hold off regulators from further investigations into its app and its potentially harmful effects. Its strategy was likely informed by the types of questions asked of it both during its own congressional hearing and those of its rivals.
TikTok notes that the actual implementation could take time and iteration before it gets things right.
“We’ll continue to look at how we can ensure our system is making a diversity of recommendations,” the company noted.
Safari exploit can leak browser histories and Google account info – Yahoo Movies Canada
Apple device users appear to be vulnerable to a significant browser privacy flaw. According to 9to5Mac, FingerprintJS has disclosed an exploit that lets attackers obtain your recent browser history, and even some Google account info, from Safari 15 across all supported platforms as well as third-party browsers on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. The IndexedDB framework (used to store data on many browsers) is violating the “same-origin” policy that prevents documents and scripts from one location (such as a domain or protocol) from interacting with content from another, letting appropriately coded websites deduce Google info from signed-in users as well as histories from open tabs and windows.
The flaw only compromises the names of the databases rather than the content itself. However, this would still be enough for a malicious site owner to grab your Google username, discover your profile picture and otherwise learn more about you. The history could also be used to piece together a rudimentary profile of the sites you like. Private browsing won’t defeat the exploit, FingerprintJS said.
Apple Will Reportedly Be Requiring Covid-19 Boosters for Its Store and Corporate Workers – Gizmodo
Apple now considers covid-19 booster shots to be an important element in protecting its workers and will be purportedly requiring employees to show proof that they’ve gotten the additional dose to access its premises, according to an internal email seen by the Verge.
On Saturday, the Verge reported that Apple would be requiring its retail and corporate employees to get a covid-19 booster shot once they are eligible for one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who received Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines can get a booster five months after their first two shots. Those who receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot are eligible to get boosted two months after vaccination.
As told by the Verge, Apple workers will have four weeks to comply with the company’s booster requirement once they become eligible. If employees don’t get a booster within that time frame, they will be required to take frequent covid-19 tests to enter an Apple Store, partner store, or Apple office beginning on Feb. 15.
“Due to waning efficacy of the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as Omicron, a booster shot is now part of staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination to protect against severe disease,” Apple stated in the internal email, according to the Verge.
The memo also contained information for unvaccinated employees, which will be required to provide a negative covid-19 rapid antigen test before entering the workplace beginning on Jan. 24. Workers who have not provided proof of vaccination will also have to abide by this testing policy.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple on Sunday to confirm the Verge’s report, but we didn’t hear back by the time of publication. We’ll update this article if someone from the company gets back to us.
If the internal email is accurate, Apple would join Meta, owner of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, in requiring covid-19 booster shots for its employees. On Monday, Meta said that employees who are eligible to receive booster shots would need to provide proof of vaccination beginning on March 28 to enter its offices.
“Boosters provide increased protection,” a Meta spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “Given the evidence of booster effectiveness, we are expanding our vaccination requirement to include boosters.”
Google hasn’t disclosed whether it will require its employees to get covid-19 booster shots but did say on Thursday it would require employees and contractors to have a negative covid-19 molecular test—which are generally more accurate and detect the presence of the coronavirus’ genetic material—such as a PCR test to access its offices or facilities. We reached out to Google to ask whether it would be requiring covid-19 booster shots for its employees on Sunday but haven’t heard back yet.
Amazon, meanwhile, purportedly isn’t using mandates to get people to get boosted, it’s using what it knows best: money. This past Thursday, the Information reported that Amazon was paying its hourly workers, including its 750,000 U.S. warehouse workers, $40 and offering them an extra (unpaid) day off to get a booster shot.
Gizmodo reached out to Amazon on Sunday to confirm whether this was indeed the case and ask if it planned to require boosters for all employees. We’ll update this article if someone from Amazon gets back to us.
Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 Raises Over $3.4 Million For Prevent Cancer Foundation – GameSpot
Awesome Games Done Quick 2022, the first of multiple charity speedrunning events run by the Games Done Quick Foundation, has ended with over $3.4 million raised for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
139 speedruns made up this year’s marathon, which began January 9 at 12 PM ET and ended at approximately 2 AM ET January 16. The exact amount raised by the event was $3,416,729, with all donations taken during that same time period.
#AGDQ2022 has raised a total amount of $3,416,729 for @preventcancer! This is officially the most we’ve ever raised in the history of @GamesDoneQuick – ANOTHER WR🏆
Thank you to everyone who made this marathon possible, and thank you all for your generosity & support❤️
— Games Done Quick (@GamesDoneQuick) January 16, 2022
Highlights of this year’s event included a Pokemon race with one player running Omega Ruby and the other Alpha Sapphire, runs in multiple 2021 releases including Resident Evil Village and It Takes Two, and a blindfolded run of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice completed in exactly two hours. Multiple world records were also set during the event, including:
Awesome Games Done Quick is an annual charity speedrunning marathon run in early January by the Games Done Quick Foundation. The foundation runs multiple marathons throughout the year, including Summer Games Done Quick and Flame Fatales. Each event raises money for a different charity, including the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, and the Malala Fund.
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