A Happy New Year and a big welcome back to Digital World, your regular update on digital marketing news from around the world. This week’s edition includes news that a Brazilian judge succeeded in taking Whatsapp offline for 12 hours, some key ways in which Russian and American search is comparable and information about marketing to the Hispanic American market. Additionally, Yandex’s source code is stolen and North Korea’s computer Operating System is picked apart by researchers.
In mid-December, Judge Sandra Regina Nostre Marques ordered a 48-hour ban on WhatsApp due to court proceedings against the Facebook-owned messaging service. The ban was upheld by telecoms operators, and though the outage was lifted after just 12 hours, the ruling has enraged civil rights voices in Brazil. The ban was lifted early due to constitutional concerns – Brazil’s crucial Marco Civil, which sets out a civil rights framework for the country’s internet, failed to prevent 100 million people being denied access to an app they rely on.
As a direct result of the outage, competitor app Telegram claimed to have won 5.7 million new users in just one day (December 17). Whatsapp is currently being challenged in the courts by Brazil’s phone companies, which argue that the free VOIP service the app provides is undermining their offering.
While common ground between Russia and the US may seem to be diminishing when it comes to geopolitics, there is plenty of overlap in the way that Russians and Americans searched in 2015, according to Russiansearchmarketing.com. Some of the similarities are thematic – political figures are widely searched for, though the individuals are different.
In other cases, both audiences are searching for the same things – in 2015, six movies were found in both Google’s and Yandex’s top ten most searched for lists (including 50 Shades of Grey, the latest Avengers film, Inside Out, Minions, Furious 7 and Mad Max). Other common searches included the Paris attacks, American TV shows, the blue/gold debate (“dressgate”), memes, celebrity deaths and a game called Agar.io that topped both Google and Yandex search for video games.
The children and grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants to the US are a significant, if challenging market often overlooked when considering opportunities in the United States. Called Bicultural Hispanics in an interview over at Emarketer.com, these are people who have grown up around American customs and the English language, while still maintaining a connection to their heritage at home.
Apparently sensitive to inauthenticity and artificiality in marketing, this group is tired of marketing messages that fail to be culturally relevant and end up stereotypical and potentially offensive. Bad Bicultural Hispanic marketing makes the mistake of ignoring the audience’s grounding in US-culture. The entire group is also wrongly treated as homogenous (unsurprisingly, there are differences between consumer groups in – and from – Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador etc.)
Russia’s Federal Security Service has apparently swooped in to prevent the black-market sale of Yandex’s source code, as reported in Kommersant (via Searchenginejournal.com). Remarkably, the ex-employee responsible, Dimitriy Korobov, sought only $25,000 USD (£16,700) for the code. The information would likely have been worth millions, though useful primarily to SEO agencies rather than rival companies.
Korobov allegedly downloaded a piece of software called “Arcadia” from Yandex servers. The nature of this software isn’t entirely clear from reports, but it is clear that it is publically inaccessible and contains crucial information about how Yandex works. Korobov was found guilty of the illegal possession and distribution of commercial secrets at a hearing in early December at which he received a suspended two-year sentence.
Red Star 3.0, a North Korean computer operating system built upon Linux (but with a Kim Jong-un approved Apple OS X visual style) was recently leaked. Speaking at the Chaos Communication Congress, researchers Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess revealed that the operating system – which is entirely unable to connect to the Internet proper – is a mishmash of stolen software and new parts designed from the ground up to spy on its users.
A crucial element of the OS is a service called “opprc”, a stealthy presence on the machine that invisibly watermarks files with your hard disk’s serial number. Every file brought onto the PC (e.g. via USB stick) gets the opprc treatment. So if you’re, say, a dissident passing around a Word file critical of the government (or just a picture of Kim Jong-un wearing an unflattering hat), you and everyone else who receives the file and uses it on a Red Star OS computer can be tracked.
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Celular photo by Flickr user Edu Alpendre
Moscow at Evening photo by Flickr user Andrey Belenko
Families photo by Flickr user Ray_LAC
Share photo by Flickr user opensource.com