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Congress vs. Big Tech: Breaking Up Is Hard (and Stupid) to Do
August 3, 2020
Like a lot of you, last week I watched the congressional testimony from the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google -- and there were a lot of apparent things that were problematic. One is that there are folks in Congress that likely shouldn't be in Congress, and another is that each company has some serious issues they haven't dealt with.
10 Types of Social Proof and What Makes Them Effective
August 3, 2020
Social proof is an individual influencer or group clout that gives "proof" to a product. It is based on the principle that people tend to follow and conform to an influential person or a majority. They do this to be validated -- a result of a need for safety. Here are 10 kinds of social proof strategies -- and how and why they work.
Jack Dorsey and the End of Twitter
June 1, 2020
I'm a member of what is likely a reasonably sizable informal group of people who trained to be a CEO but declined the job -- in my case, several times. So I don't envy the position that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is in as he tries to figure out a way to do the right thing concerning the spread of false information and defend his company against an attack by the designated leader of the free world.
XRSpace Headset Opens Door to New Virtual World
May 27, 2020
A new virtual reality headset designed for mobility will serve as an entry point into a new virtual world. The $599 Mova headset from XRSpace, founded by former HTC chief Peter Chou, will support 5G and be the exclusive on-ramp to Manova, a social reality platform that aims to defy the boundaries of space and time to bring people together. Users can roam Manova as full-body avatars.
Facebook Shops Seeks to Cash In on Online Bonanza
May 21, 2020
Facebook has announced Facebook Shops, which will let small businesses set up a single online store accessible from both Instagram and Facebook. Businesses can choose products they want to feature and customize the look and feel of their online shop. Consumers can find Facebook Shops on a business' Facebook page or Instagram profile, or through stories or ads.
Facebook Sets Up Political Advocacy Group as High-Tech Teeters on Edge
May 13, 2020
Facebook has set up American Edge, a political advocacy group for the high-tech industry, which is drawing scrutiny from United States lawmakers. American Edge will fund ad campaigns and studies by academics to push its efforts. Facebook is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to build support for the tech industry. It formed American Edge as a nonprofit organization in December.
Far-Right Spreads COVID-19 Disinformation Epidemic Online
May 5, 2020
Far-right groups and individuals in the United States are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to promote disinformation, hate, extremism and authoritarianism. "COVID-19 has been seized by far-right groups as an opportunity to call for extreme violence," states a report from ISD, based on a combination of natural language processing, network analysis and ethnographic online research.
Facebook Gaming Powers Ahead With Live Streaming
April 21, 2020
Facebook has launched a free standalone app for creating and watching live video game play on Android devices. Some 700 million users already engage in gaming on the platform, but with its dedicated app Facebook is locking horns with the leaders in the market -- Amazon, Google and Microsoft. "Live streaming was a growth opportunity before the pandemic," noted Strategy Analytics' Michael Goodman.
Facebook, YouTube Crack Down on Conspiracy Theories Linking 5G to Coronavirus
April 8, 2020
Facebook and YouTube are cracking down on the pervasive conspiracy theories linking the spread of coronavirus to 5G wireless technology. Facebook has begun actively removing false claims that could lead to physical harm. WhatsApp has reduced the number of accounts users can forward chats to from five to one. Meanwhile, YouTube has banned all videos promoting 5G-coronavirus conspiracy theories.
Zoom's Soaring Popularity Is a Double-Edged Sword
April 1, 2020
As the coronavirus pandemic worsened in the U.S., Zoom Video Communications offered free access to its videoconferencing platform and demand skyrocketed. "Zoom has quickly become the de facto for teleconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic," said James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4. "A lot of organizations are using it to keep in contact with their employees."
Instagram Combats COVID-19 Misinformation, Social Isolation
March 25, 2020
Instagram has announced a slew of new capabilities to combat misinformation about the coronavirus, along with a co-watching feature that helps users feel less isolated while sheltering at home. Efforts to clamp down on misinformation include removing COVID-19 accounts from recommendations unless they are posted by a credible health organization, and removing false claims that could cause harm.
Facebook Pledges Funds for SMBs in Face of Shutdowns
March 19, 2020
Facebook has announced a $100M commitment of cash grants and ad credits to help as many as 30,000 eligible small businesses in 30 countries where the company operates. The program can help SMBs maintain their workforces, meet rent costs, connect with more customers, and cover operational costs. In addition, Facebook has earmarked $1 million in grants to local news organizations covering COVID-19.
Reddit Challenges Twitter With Trending Takeover Ads
March 12, 2020
Reddit has launched Trending Takeover ads for its Search tab and Popular feed, on both mobile and desktop versions. One third of the more than 430 million monthly active users visiting Reddit view the Popular feed every day. The Trending Takeover ad unit is in the second slot of the Trending Today module on Reddit's Popular feed and in the Trending Today dropdown in Reddit's Search tab.
Twitter Tiptoes Into Battle to Curb Social Media Misinformation
March 10, 2020
Twitter applied its "manipulative media" label to a deceptively edited video showing presidential hopeful Joe Biden saying, "re-elect Donald Trump" -- the first time the service enforced rules adopted to control synthetic and manipulated media. The flagged video was posted to Twitter by Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, and retweeted by the president.
Study: YouTube Achieves Some Success at Hobbling Conspiracy Theories
March 3, 2020
YouTube's efforts to reduce the spread of conspiracy theories on the platform appear to be bearing fruit. YouTube "significantly reduced the overall volume of recommended conspiratorial content," three researchers wrote in a study from the University of California, Berkeley. The team spent 15 months studying 8 million recommendations from the platform's next-watch algorithm.
Facebook Bans Coronavirus Ad Scams
February 27, 2020
Facebook is clamping down on ads and misinformation relating to coronavirus. Criticism of social media platforms for spreading fear and confusion about coronavirus is rife. Still, Facebook's decision-making has raised a few eyebrows, as the coronavirus ad restrictions could be interpreted as limiting free speech in a way that is inconsistent with Facebook's general practices.
It's Time for a Social Media and Disinformation Reckoning: ECT News Roundtable, Episode 6
February 13, 2020
Can social media be saved? Can democracy be saved? The first question may seem less compelling than the second, but to some very worried observers, they are intimately entwined. Social networking -- on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a host of other online networks -- is the root of all current cultural evils, in the eyes of some critics. Undeniably, social networks offer positive experiences too.
Building E-Commerce Wave: Social Media Shopping
January 13, 2020
Consumers are on social media constantly, scrolling through posts. Many have begun clicking on brand posts and making purchases. "Social commerce is becoming increasingly popular for brands," noted Darin Archer, chief strategy officer at Elastic Path. "Even when the transaction itself may be happening outside the app, there's a much smaller gap between discovery and purchase."
Facebook to Kick Out Some Deepfakes
January 8, 2020
Facebook has promised to remove certain "misleading manipulated media": videos edited or synthesized in ways that likely would mislead viewers to believe that video subjects said words they did not say; products of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merge, combine, replace, or superimpose content onto a video, creating a fake video that appears to be authentic.
Facebook Won't Let US, UK, Australia Get Toe in Backdoor
December 11, 2019
Facebook has rejected a request from the U.S., the UK and Australia for a "backdoor" in its encrypted messenger apps to help law enforcement agencies combat crime and terrorism. "Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere," wrote WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky.
Twitter Sets Up Privacy Center but Moves to Skirt GDPR
December 4, 2019
Twitter's new Privacy Center will give users more clarity on what it does to protect the information people share. The center will host everything relevant to Twitter's privacy and data protection work, including initiatives, announcements, new privacy products and communication about security incidents, noted Twitter Data Protection Officer Damien Kieran and Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour.
New YouTube Terms of Service Create Stir
November 12, 2019
Google has published changes to YouTube's Terms of Service Agreement that have stoked fears among some users. "YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account's access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable," the new ToSA states. Many creators are deeply concerned over the prospect of YouTube changing its practices.
The Truth vs. Censorship Trap
November 4, 2019
There recently has been a lot of rumbling about Twitter deciding not to take political ads, and Facebook deciding -- and this was stupid -- that it would run political ads even if they were untrue. I'm becoming convinced that Zuckerberg is trying to put Facebook out of business. There are some real differences between the firms. Facebook does far more political advertising than Twitter.
Evidence of War Crimes Vanishing From Social Media
November 1, 2019
A controversy has erupted over YouTube's practice of taking down videos with graphically violent content, which also may be evidence of recent war crimes. YouTube's policy -- similar to other social media platforms -- has been to remove content that contains hate speech, disinformation or disturbing images. In the past, social media services have been called out for failing to do enough.
Facebook Employees Blast Company's Political Ads Policy
October 30, 2019
At least 250 Facebook employees signed a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizing the company's hands-off policy against fact-checking political ads. "We strongly object to this policy as it stands," says the letter. "It doesn't protect voices, but instead allows politicians to weaponize our platform by targeting people who believe that content posted by political figures is trustworthy."
Facebook's After-the-Fact Oversight
October 19, 2019
I wanted to like Kara Swisher's recent piece about Facebook's attempt to wrestle with its demons, but I can't. It feels too much like self-delusion. To cut to the chase, Facebook announced it was forming an oversight board that eventually will have about 40 members with responsibilities for policing its domain and reducing or even eliminating fake news and propaganda.
New Trade Deal Provisions Give US Tech Firms Legal Shields
October 9, 2019
The Trump administration has begun inserting legal protections into trade agreements to shield online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from lawsuits. That move could help lock in America's tech-friendly regulations around the world even as they are being questioned at home. The legal protections are included in the administration's two biggest trade deals.
Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
Facebook's New Portals: More Ways to Follow
September 19, 2019
Facebook has announced three additions to the Portal family: a new Portal, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices let users make calls using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The Portal has a new design that resembles a picture frame. The Portal Mini is similar but smaller. The Portal TV blends the functionality of a set-top box with social media and video conferencing.
Instagram May Roll Out App for 'Real Friends' Sharing
August 28, 2019
A new application may be in the works that allows Instagram users to share real-time information with their closest friends. Called "Threads," the app allows users to set up automatic sharing with their closest Instagram buddies of such information as location, movement and battery life, as well as text, video and photo messages generated using Instagram's tools.
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Women in Tech
Which Big Tech CEO that testified at the Congressional Antitrust Hearing on July 29 is the most trustworthy?
Jeff Bezos of Amazon
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
Sundar Pichai of Google
Tim Cook of Apple
All of them are equally trustworthy to some extent.
None of them are trustworthy whatsoever.