Siri started out with a female voice exclusively, but now it can be changed to male. Alexa uses only a female voice. Cortana’s voice, for now, is strictly female. Why is that? Is it sexism? Is it for better intelligibility? John looks into the matter.
Every time you use Facebook’s new Reaction emoji, you’re providing the company with a greater insight into your emotions. With this addition to Facebook’s data collection, advertisers can build a better profile to target you with ads. Facebook could even carry out more emotional manipulation experiments. But there is a new way to defeat this kind of surveillance with a browser extension called Go Rando by Benjamin Grosser. When you react to a post, it randomly chooses one of the six reactions. Over time, you’ll appear to have perfectly balanced views to Facebook’s algorithms. Benjamin has even open-sourced the extension, and you can install it for most popular browsers. You can find instructions on Benjamin’s blog.
Facebook wants to make video more engaging, so it’s going to make their audio auto-play in their mobile apps. Currently, audio is off by default and from Facebook’s perspective, that’s boring, limiting, and just plain blah.
The proliferation of “fake news” has been blamed in part on social media companies’ hands-off approach to curation. Charlotte Henry argues this is one area where social media can take its cues from Apple and its heavily curated approach to Apple News.
Watch out, Snapchat. Facebook is taking you on with its new Instagram Stories feature in Instagram. Like Snapchat, Instagram Stories lets you draw on photos and videos then post them where followers can see your impromptu works of art before they disappear 24 hours later.