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Scott Ertz Google kills off most of its YouTube Originals, focuses on creators
(2022-01-22)
Google kills off most of its YouTube Originals, focuses on creators Google has announced that it is killing off its YouTube Originals division. This team was responsible for programs like Scare PewDiePie and Cobra Kai, which eventually moved to Netflix. YouTube Kids and Black Voices will remain active brands under the YouTube umbrella. In a statement, YouTube said that it will be focusing on supporting creators instead of producing original content. This change in strategy comes after years of mixed messaging from Google about the importance of original programming.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What was the YouTube Originals brand?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
YouTube Originals was a team within YouTube that was responsible for creating original content. This programming included shows like Hometown Showdown and SiGNALS. The division has not created a lot of content that was popular among viewers (except Cobra Kai, which became popular after its move to Netflix).

In general, the content created under the brand was big-budget versions of content that was already being created on YouTube, with a few notable exceptions. Nothing about what was happening seemed original or creative, making it a big departure from a platform that had built its reputation on original and creative work from individual creators.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Why did Google kill off YouTube Originals?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Google has been sending mixed messages about the importance of original programming for YouTube for years. In some cases, it seemed like YouTube was trying to compete with Netflix and other streaming services by creating its own content. In other cases, it seemed that YouTube was trying to compete with traditional cable with YouTube TV. Then there's YouTube Music - a constantly confusing message about what the YouTube brand was supposed to be.

With YouTube Originals, however, the company had sent the strongest message to creators that the company believed they could do fine without them. However, this strategy never really paid off, as YouTube Originals produced content that was not well-received by viewers. In a statement announcing the closure of YouTube Originals, Google said that it will be focusing on supporting creators instead of producing original content.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What does this mean for creators?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
This change in focus means that YouTube will be investing more resources into helping creators make better content. This could include things like better production values or more marketing support. YouTube has also said that it will be expanding its funding for YouTube Creators Academy, which provides training and education to creators.

This change is good news for creators who have been frustrated with the lack of support they've received from YouTube in recent years. It's unclear how this will impact the overall quality of content on YouTube, but it seems like YouTube is finally ready to invest in its creators.

There are other issues going on between YouTube and creators that still need to be dealt with. Many creators feel their work is being hindered by content policies within the company, often leaving creators not knowing what is and is not acceptable day to day. Also, statistics are getting harder to trust, with views disappearing long after the fact without and clear explanation as to why. Before YouTube can become the go-to place for creators that it once was, it's got a lot more work to do.

What do you think about Google's decision to kill off YouTube Originals? Let us know in the comments!
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Scott Ertz Apple devices violate basic security protocol, exposing private data
(2022-01-22)
Apple devices violate basic security protocol, exposing private data Apple devices have been violating same origin policy for the past 4 months, exposing private data to potential hackers. This means that a hacker could track your browsing history and access additional information, depending on the way those sites store data in your browser. This bug has yet to be fixed, so it's important to be aware of the potential dangers and take steps to protect yourself.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What is the Same Origin Policy?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
The same origin policy is a basic security rule of the internet that prevents scripts from one site from making changes or accessing data from another. This rule helps to protect your private data and keep you safe online.

When you visit a website, your browser downloads a variety of scripts that allow the site to function. These scripts come from a variety of sources - including other websites that the site has linked to. The same origin policy ensures that these scripts can't interact with each other. This prevents a hacker from exploiting a vulnerability on one site to access data from another site.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Why is the Same Origin Policy Important?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
The same origin policy is one of the most basic security measures on the internet and helps to protect your private data. Without it, hackers would be able to exploit vulnerabilities on websites to track your browsing history and access sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">How did Apple break things?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Apple devices have been violating same origin policy for the past four months, exposing private data to potential hackers. This means that a hacker could track your browsing history and access additional information, depending on the way those sites store data in your browser.

The issue comes about because of the way the browser currently handles access to IndexedDB. This is the database that all browsers use to allow sites to store information. Normally, the database is only visible to the domain that created it. Under the current system, a copy of each database is created for each domain. This makes it easy for any site to ask for the names of the database and receive everyone's names. This becomes a problem with sites like Google, which uses the unique identifier as part of the database name, giving everyone access to information about your account.

This bug was introduced with iOS 15 in September of 2021 and has yet to be fixed. So far, there have been no reports of any malicious actors taking advantage of this security flaw, but it's important to be aware of the potential dangers.

Martin Bajanik of FingerprintJS is the researcher who discovered the vulnerability. He reported it to Apple in November of 2021. As of now, the company has still not patched the issue. Per standard security policies, the company reported the vulnerability publicly to allow security professionals to work on fixes when the company themselves will not.
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Scott Ertz IRS is requiring third-party facial recognition for online taxpayers
(2022-01-22)
IRS is requiring third-party facial recognition for online taxpayers One thing we have learned over the past few years is that people are not comfortable with the idea of public biometric information. Whether it's Disney collecting fingerprints for pass holders or law enforcement scanning faces, people are not about it. But, despite the very public and loud backlash over the topic, we still see biometric data being collected for a lot of systems. The most recent comes to us care of the US federal government, in particular the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), who will begin requiring the use of facial recognition systems soon.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What is biometric data?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Biometric data is any kind of identifying information that can be used to track or identify an individual. This includes facial recognition, fingerprints, voiceprints, retinal scans, and more. In the past biometric data was often used for criminal investigations or in high-security settings. However, with the advent of social media and other online platforms, it has become much more common for companies to collect this type of data from their users.

Facebook is a great example of this. The site has long collected facial recognition data - even from people who do not have Facebook accounts. They use this data to help tag friends in photos and videos. While many people are uncomfortable with Facebook having access to such personal information, they continue to use the site because it is so convenient. Fortunately, the company has announced the end of this program.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The IRS's biometric plan[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
The IRS has announced that, starting this summer, all users of the IRS.gov website will need to enroll in a third-party facial recognition system. This includes users who have already registered and used the system with a username and password. The new registration will require the user to upload a valid government issued ID, a utility bill with your name on it, and a selfie. The selfie will need to be a short video, which is going to cause problems for some users who have older hardware or do not have access to a webcam. ID.me is the platform of choice, which has been used by several states for other services, like welfare.

Once enrolled, your face will be scanned each time you log in to IRS.gov. This will ensure that you are who you say you are and that your tax information is not being accessed by someone else.

The IRS has been slowly moving towards this type of verification system for a few years now. In 2017, they began requiring taxpayers to provide their Social Security number (SSN) when filing taxes online. While this was an important step in ensuring the security of taxpayer data, it did not go far enough. SSNs can be stolen and used fraudulently, but facial recognition cannot be faked as easily.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Why biometric verification?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
There are a few reasons why the IRS might want to move to a biometric verification system. The first is safety - they want to make sure that taxpayer data is not being accessed by unauthorized individuals. The second is convenience - with biometric verification, taxpayers will no longer have to remember usernames and passwords. And the third is fraud prevention. With facial recognition, it will be much harder for people to file taxes under someone else's name.

While many people are unhappy about this change, there is no doubt that it is necessary. The IRS has been dealing with a lot of tax fraud in recent years, and they need to take steps to ensure that this stops. Biometric verification is one of the best ways to do this, and we can expect to see more systems using it in the future.
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Scott Ertz Activision Blizzard joins ever-growing Microsoft Gaming family
(2022-01-18)
Activision Blizzard joins ever-growing Microsoft Gaming family In what was a big surprise to some in the industry, Microsoft announced this morning that they had entered into an agreement to purchase Activision Blizzard. The companies have agreed to a $68 billion sale that will see the entirety of Activision Blizzard reporting directly to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer. The move is not a huge surprise considering the implosion that has been happening over at Activision thanks to a series of revelations about inappropriate behavior within the company.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What does it mean?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
There's a lot to unpack here. The biggest thing that will happen is that the majority of the games in the Activision Blizzard library will be made available as part of Game Pass. This includes some of the largest gaming franchises, including Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo (a new title is currently in the works), and Call of Duty. This addition means that Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass will now have games from some of the biggest names in the industry: 343 Industries, Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, EA, Mojang, Obsidian, and more.

The purchase also means that the company owns games from one of the top mobile game developers in the world: King (which was acquired by Activision in 2015). Potentially more importantly, it gives Microsoft access to a very talented mobile development house. Microsoft Gaming has struggled in mobile, killing off some great games (Minecraft Earth and Gears POP!) in recent memory. With the addition of a dedicated mobile team, we might see these types of games given a chance in the market.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Why is this happening?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
When the issues within Activision Blizzard began to come to light, many in the industry expected that it would spell the end of the company as an independent entity. Sexual harassment, possible sexual assault, and other cultural issues have put the company in the hot seat. The company changed the name of an Overwatch character that was named for a problematic employee. The state of California sued the company over the issues. Investors and employees have called for the ouster of the CEO. The stock price has been in free-fall (until today).

Within our organization, there has been a lot of discussion about what the future of the brand might look like. After having to constantly address the issues within the corporate culture, it was clear to us that Activision Blizzard could not continue to exist on its own. The problems ran too deep to be able to oust everyone without structural collapse. CEO Bobby Kotick and upper management all needed to go. The only way for this to happen was with an acquisition by a large company. Internally, we believed that Microsoft was the only option.

Activision Blizzard is a massive company with studios galore. Outside of a company like Amazon, Apple, and Google, who have toyed with gaming but never taken a big step into the space, Microsoft was the only company with the money, interest, and infrastructure to take on the challenge. While the announcement said that Kotick would stay on as CEO, after the purchase was completed, everyone would report directly to Phil Spencer.
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Scott Ertz What does a potential sale of The CW mean for viewers and content?
(2022-01-16)
What does a potential sale of The CW mean for viewers and content? A few weeks ago, a report suggested that the future of the broadcast network The CW was in flux. The owners are considering divesting from the network, and a few interested parties have come forward. But the big question is what will the network look like after the current owners, who are also major content providers for the network, leave?

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The network's history[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
It's hard to believe that The CW as we know it today was created 16 years ago. The network was born when the former UPN and WB merged into a single network, bringing together two major media companies: CBS and Warner Bros. The letters of the network name represent the two parent companies. In the years since the creation of the network, however, there have been big changes in the industry, many of which have affected the CW.

First, CBS no longer exists as it did in 2006. After its merger with Viacom, the company has a different name (ViacomCBS) and a renewed focus, particularly on streaming content through Paramount+. Second, Warner Bros. doesn't look like it did in 2006. The company has gone through a series of mergers and acquisitions, followed by divestments, leaving it as WarnerMedia and representing the media arm of AT&T. In the coming months, the brand is expected to become part of Discovery in another shift of ownership. With DirecTV no longer part of the family, WarnerMedia has focused on its own streaming goals through HBO Max.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">The next steps[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
With both ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia focused on their individual streaming efforts, CW is likely on the auction block. While several contenders have emerged showing interest in the brand, the leading option appears to be Nexstar Media Group Inc. If you've not heard of the company, that's okay - you have likely watched their stations. The company owns 199 local affiliates across the country, including our NBC affiliate in Tampa.

So, why would Nexstar want to purchase The CW? Well, they currently own the network affiliates for The CW in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC. They have been on a bit of a buying binge, looking to have more control over the ecosystems in which they operate, as opposed to being just the local operators.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">What would the new network look like?[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Nexstar's purchase of WGN ended in a complete format change, becoming News Nation. A purchase of The CW could potentially see another massive change, but for different reasons. With The CW, most of the biggest draws come from the DC Comics catalog, which is owned by WarnerMedia. The company has begun to launch new shows within the DC catalog on its own HBO Max streaming service, as opposed to The CW. A sale of the network could potentially not include the DC programming, leaving The CW with a lot less original programming - the exact situation UPN and The WB were in.

It's unlikely that Nexstar would create another news network, but it's not out of the question. The company owns several news outlets, including News Nation and The Hill. They could also create a broadcast syndication network, copying a successful cable model. The difference, of course, is that broadcast television has a different cost structure than cable, as FCC licenses cost - though they could use their News Nation infrastructure to eliminate that cost.

[heading" class="UpStreamLink">Summary[/heading" class="UpStreamLink">
Everything is still up in the air, and no decisions have been made. We will have to wait to see what WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, and the final buyer can negotiate before we will have any idea what the future of The CW, as well as its biggest hits, like The Flash, will look like.
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