Google Assistant Sensitivity; Snapchat Use Gets Big Increase; Facebook Algorithm Squashes Fake Accounts; Amazon Looks at Ring Facial Recognition

Google is starting to “roll out gradually” a feature allowing you to customize voice detection sensitivity on Google Assistant devices, a spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. Although the feature has not been widely released yet, the “‘Hey Google’ Sensitivity” feature displays a slider that allows you to increase or reduce the sensitivity with which Google Assistant devices pick up the command “Hey Google.” The new setting is meant to decrease accidental activations of your Assistant.

With more users stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, Snapchat has more users than ever. Engadget.com says Snapchat gained 11 million users during the first quarter of 2020, a significant uptick from the 8 million it added last quarter quarter, and well ahead of the company’s expected growth. It now has 229 million daily active users, up 20 percent from last year. Like other social networks, Snapchat has seen a surge in usage in recent weeks, but CEO Evan Spiegel says that not all the extra growth is due to the coronavirus. They have also grown programming consumption with Snapchat Discover.

Facebook engineers, in a blog post, describe an algorithm — SybilEdge — that detects fake accounts that evade Facebook’s anti-abuse filters at registration time but that haven’t friended enough people to perpetuate abuse. According to venturebeat.com, The goal is to mitigate the accounts’ ability to launch attacks against other users. An analysis from Oxford found that 33% of people have seen some form of misinformation about COVID-19 on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Amazon subsidiary Ring, which has partnerships with almost 1,200 law enforcement agencies nationwide, does not currently include facial recognition or license plate scanning tools in its home surveillance line of consumer products. Arstechnica.com reports that The company appears to be evaluating adding both tools… raising additional privacy concerns. Potential new features for Ring include options for enabling or disabling the camera both physically and remotely, both visual and audible alarms to ward off “would-be criminals,” and potential object, facial, and license plate detection.



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