Journalist and Media 2017

I have written on journalism and media trends eariler few years ago. So it is time for update. What is the state of journalism and news publishing in 2017? NiemanLab’s predictions for 2017 are a good place to start thinking about what lies ahead for journalism. There, Matt Waite puts us in our place straight away by telling us that the people running the media are the problem

There has been changes on tech publishing. In January 2017 International Data Group, the owner of PCWorld magazine and market researcher IDC, on Thursday said it was being acquired by China Oceanwide Holdings Group and IDG Capital, the investment management firm run by IDG China executive Hugo Shong. In 2016 Arrow bought EE Times, EDN, TechOnline and lots more from UBM.


Here are some article links and information bits on journalist and media in 2017:

Soothsayers’ guides to journalism in 2017 article take a look at journalism predictions and the value of this year’s predictions.

What Journalism Needs To Do Post-Election article tells that faced with the growing recognition that the electorate was uniformed or, at minimum, deeply in the thrall of fake news, far too many journalists are responding not with calls for change but by digging in deeper to exactly the kinds of practices that got us here in the first place.

Fake News Is About to Get Even Scarier than You Ever Dreamed article says that what we saw in the 2016 election is nothing compared to what we need to prepare for in 2020 as incipient technologies appear likely to soon obliterate the line between real and fake.

YouTube’s ex-CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley service sees a massive amount of information on the problem, which will lead to people’s backlash.

Headlines matter article tells that in 2017, headlines will matter more than ever and journalists will need to wrest control of headline writing from social-optimization teams. People get their news from headlines now in a way they never did in the past.

Why new journalism grads are optimistic about 2017 article tells that since today’s college journalism students have been in school, the forecasts for their futures has been filled with words like “layoffs,” “cutbacks,” “buyouts” and “freelance.” Still many people are optimistic about the future because the main motivation for being a journalist is often “to make a difference.”

Updating social media account can be a serious job. Zuckerberg has 12+ Facebook employees helping him with posts and comments on his Facebook page and professional photographers to snap personal moments.
Wikipedia Is Being Ripped Apart By a Witch Hunt For Secretly Paid Editors article tells that with undisclosed paid editing on the rise, Wikipedians and the Wikimedia Foundation are working together to stop the practice without discouraging user participation. Paid editing is permissible under Wikimedia Foundation’s terms of use as long as they disclose these conflicts of interest on their user pages, but not all paid editors make these disclosures.

Big Internet giants are working on how to make content better for mobile devices. Instant Articles is a new way for any publisher to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook. Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a project that it aims to accelerate content on mobile devices. Both of those systems have their advantages and problems.

Clearing Out the App Stores: Government Censorship Made Easier article tells that there’s a new form of digital censorship sweeping the globe, and it could be the start of something devastating. The centralization of the internet via app stores has made government censorship easier. If the app isn’t in a country’s app store, it effectively doesn’t exist. For more than a decade, we users of digital devices have actively championed an online infrastructure that now looks uniquely vulnerable to the sanctions of despots and others who seek to control information.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Amazon ‘Reviewing’ Its Website After It Suggested Bomb-Making Items

    Amazon said on Wednesday that it was reviewing its website after a British television report said the online retail giant’s algorithms were automatically suggesting bomb-making ingredients that were “Frequently bought together.” The news is particularly timely in Britain, where the authorities are investigating a terrorist attack last week on London’s Underground subway system. The attack involved a crude explosive in a bucket inside a plastic bag, and detonated on a train during the morning rush.

    Amazon ‘Reviewing’ Its Website After It Suggested Bomb-Making Items

    LONDON — Amazon said on Wednesday that it was reviewing its website after a British television report said the online retail giant’s algorithms were automatically suggesting bomb-making ingredients that were “Frequently bought together.”

    The news report is the latest example of a technology company drawing criticism for an apparently faulty algorithm. Google and Facebook have come under fire for allowing advertisers to direct ads to users who searched for, or expressed interest in, racist sentiments and hate speech. Growing awareness of these automated systems has been accompanied by calls for tech firms to take more responsibility for the contents on their sites.

    Amazon customers buying products that were innocent enough on their own, like cooking ingredients, received “Frequently bought together” prompts for other items that would help them produce explosives, according to the Channel 4 News.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shan Wang / Nieman Lab:
    Univision used WhatsApp group chats to distribute news and information during Hurricane Irma and is doing the same for Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico — Meet your audiences where they are — in Univision’s case, preparing to weather a major storm, or evacuating in a car with only a phone in hand.

    Univision is trying out WhatsApp to distribute news and information during hurricane emergencies

    Meet your audiences where they are — in Univision’s case, preparing to weather a major storm, or evacuating in a car with only a phone in hand.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Will Oremus / Slate:
    Blaming algorithms obscures the true source of Facebook’s ad problem: the structure of the company’s ad business and the decision-making of those who run it

    Blame the Minder, Not the Machine

    Facebook’s ad network lent itself to abuse by Russian hackers and racists. The problem has nothing to do with algorithms.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Freedom of the Press Foundation announces $2,500 bug bounty program for SecureDrop, the open-source whistleblowing tool — Created date — The SecureDrop engineering team welcomes the contributions of security researchers. SecureDrop is relied on by sources to talk with journalists …

    Ethical Security Research on SecureDrop

    The SecureDrop engineering team welcomes the contributions of security researchers. SecureDrop is relied on by sources to talk with journalists at dozens of news organizations, many of whom are taking significant risks to bring information to the public eye. We want to do everything we can to make the whistleblowing process as safe for them as possible. Testing by external security researchers is an important part of that process. In order to minimize risk to SecureDrop users throughout the security research process, in this post we will describe how to ethically perform security research on SecureDrop and what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple blocking ads that follow users around web is ‘sabotage’, says industry

    New iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra will stop ads following Safari users, prompting open letter claiming Apple is destroying internet’s economic model

    For the second time in as many years, internet advertisers are facing unprecedented disruption to their business model thanks to a new feature in a forthcoming Apple software update.

    iOS 11, the latest version of Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, will hit users’ phones and tablets on Tuesday. It will include a new default feature for the Safari web browser dubbed “intelligent tracking prevention”, which prevents certain websites from tracking users around the net, in effect blocking those annoying ads that follow you everywhere you visit.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hi Facebook, Google, we think we might tax your ads instead – lots of love, Europe x
    Or maybe hold money from online transactions. Either way, we’re getting our damn cash

    More details have emerged on the various plans being considered by European governments to force internet giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon to pay more in taxes, including a levy on internet ads and even withholding money for online transactions.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Maciej Ceglowski / Idle Words:
    When Amazon’s “frequently bought together” engine grouped potassium nitrate with sulfur and more, reporters misleadingly implied site was aiding bomb makers — On September 18, the British Channel 4 ran a news segment with the headline, ‘Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon.’

    Anatomy of a Moral Panic

    On September 18, the British Channel 4 ran a news segment with the headline, ‘Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon.’

    The piece claims that “users searching for a common chemical compound used in food production are offered the ingredients to produce explosive black powder” on Amazon’s website, and that “steel ball bearings often used as shrapnel” are also promoted on the page, in some cases as items that other customers also bought.

    The ‘common chemical compound’ in Channel 4’s report is potassium nitrate, an ingredient used in curing meat. If you go to Amazon’s page to order a half-kilo bag of the stuff, you’ll see the suggested items include sulfur and charcoal, the other two ingredients of gunpowder. (Unlike Channel 4, I am comfortable revealing the secrets of this 1000-year-old technology.)

    The implication is clear: home cooks are being radicalized by the site’s recommendation algorithm to abandon their corned beef in favor of shrapnel-packed homemade bombs. And more ominously, enough people must be buying these bomb parts on Amazon for the algorithm to have noticed the correlations, and begin making its dark suggestions.

    But as a few more minutes of clicking would have shown, the only thing Channel 4 has discovered is a hobbyist community of people who mill their own black powder at home, safely and legally, for use in fireworks, model rockets, antique firearms, or to blow up the occasional stump.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Gary Baum / Hollywood Reporter:
    Profile of Your News Wire, an LA-based outlet run by a couple that champions populist stories and has been a target of Snopes — Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway — a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 …

    L.A. Alt-Media Agitator (Not Breitbart) Clashes With Google, Snopes

    Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway — a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 — out of an apartment in L.A.’s historic El Royale.

    “Reality is how you perceive it. You can change that perception of reality — dictate it.” Most journalism barons don’t deal in metaphysics. For digital upstart Sean Adl-Tabatabai, 36, who talks of “the holographic nature of the world,” and his husband and business partner, Sinclair Treadway, 24, it could be a credo.

    Your News Wire, their 3-year-old website of murky fact and slippery spin, has in the past year helped usher Donna Brazile out of her CNN gig and foment the Pizzagate frenzy with a key early post (which has generated 28,000 Facebook shares), all from an unlikely HQ for an alt-media operation: the couple’s live/work apartment at the historic El Royale (sometime home to the likes of Katie Holmes, Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz) in L.A.’s Hancock Park.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Washington Post:
    Sources: on Nov. 19, 9 days after Zuckerberg downplayed fake news’ role in election, Obama appealed to him to take threat of political disinformation seriously — Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played …

    Obama tried to give Zuckerberg a wake-up call over fake news on Facebook

    Nine days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “crazy” the idea that fake news on his company’s social network played a key role in the U.S. election, President Barack Obama pulled the youthful tech billionaire aside and delivered what he hoped would be a wake-up call.

    For months leading up to the vote, Obama and his top aides quietly agonized over how to respond to Russia’s brazen intervention on behalf of the Donald Trump campaign without making matters worse. Weeks after Trump’s surprise victory, some of Obama’s aides looked back with regret and wished they had done more.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s political awakening, which led to his current US tour and significant changes in Facebook features, especially Groups — Technically speaking, Mark Zuckerberg has been on paternity leave. In late August his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave birth to their second child, a girl.

    Mark Zuckerberg’s Fake News Problem Isn’t Going Away
    Facebook has 2 billion users, record profits, vast influence, and big problems in Washington.

    Technically speaking, Mark Zuckerberg has been on paternity leave. In late August his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave birth to their second child, a girl. But though Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., stayed away from the office for a month after the delivery, he has been utterly unable to avoid what’s become a second full-time job: managing an escalating series of political crises.

    In early September, Facebook disclosed that it sold $100,000 in political ads during the 2016 election to buyers who it later learned were connected to the Russian government. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia, the most senior Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have said they’re considering holding a hearing, in which case Zuckerberg could be asked to testify.

    Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller has made Facebook a focus of his investigation into collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s campaign.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    I Helped Create Facebook’s Ad Machine. Here’s How I’d Fix It

    This month, two magnificently embarrassing public-relations disasters rocked the Facebook money machine like nothing else in its history.

    First, Facebook revealed that shady Russian operators purchased political ads via Facebook in the 2016 election. That’s right, Moscow decided to play a role in American democracy and targeted what are presumed to have been fake news, memes, and/or various bits of slander (Facebook refuses to disclose the ad creative, though it has shared it with special counsel Robert Mueller) at American voters in an attempt to influence the electoral course of our 241-year-old republic. And all that on what used to be a Harvard hook-up app.

    Second, reporters at ProPublica discovered that via Facebook’s publicly available advertising interface, users with interests in bigoted terms like “how to burn Jews” could be easily targeted. In the current political climate, the optics just couldn’t be worse.

    How can this perfect, innocent creature get assailed by such ugliness?

    You’re likely thinking: How can the sterile machinery of the Facebook cash machine inspire such emotional protectiveness? Because I helped create it.

    In 2011, I parlayed the sale of my failing startup to Twitter into a seat on Facebook’s nascent advertising team

    “Targeting” is polite ads-speak for the data levers that Facebook exposes to advertisers, allowing that predatory lot to dissect the user base—that would be you—like a biology lab frog, drawing and quartering it into various components, and seeing which clicked most on its ads.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Facebook Will Struggle to Regulate Political Ads

    In 2011, Facebook asked the Federal Election Commission to exempt it from rules requiring political advertisers to disclose who’s paying for an ad. Political ads on TV and radio must include such disclosures. But Facebook argued that its ads should be regulated as “small items,” similar to bumper stickers, which don’t require disclosures. The FEC ended up deadlocked on the issue, and the question of how to handle digital ads has languished for six years.

    Now, it’s blowing up again—and damaging Facebook in the process.

    The renewed interest follows Facebook’s disclosure earlier this month that it had sold $150,000 worth of political ads linked to Russian troll accounts during the 2016 election. Under pressure from investigators, Facebook has turned over records about the ads to Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller III. Some in Congress want to summon Facebook executives to testify about the purchases.

    On Thursday, Facebook tried to defuse the controversy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced new transparency measures that would require political advertisers on Facebook to disclose who’s paying for their ads and publicly catalog different ad variations they target at Facebook users. Members of Congress, meanwhile, are mulling a bill that would require such disclosures.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Governments Turn Tables By Suing Public Records Requesters

    Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

    The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged. They name the requesters as defendants but do not seek damage awards. Still, the recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it’s becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics.

    Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters

    An Oregon parent wanted details about school employees getting paid to stay home. A retired educator sought data about student performance in Louisiana. And college journalists in Kentucky requested documents about the investigations of employees accused of sexual misconduct.

    Instead, they got something else: sued by the agencies they had asked for public records.

    Government bodies are increasingly turning the tables on citizens who seek public records that might be embarrassing or legally sensitive. Instead of granting or denying their requests, a growing number of school districts, municipalities and state agencies have filed lawsuits against people making the requests — taxpayers, government watchdogs and journalists who must then pursue the records in court at their own expense.

    The lawsuits generally ask judges to rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged. They name the requesters as defendants but do not seek damage awards. Still, the recent trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates, who say it’s becoming a new way for governments to hide information, delay disclosure and intimidate critics.

    “This practice essentially says to a records requester, ‘File a request at your peril,’” said University of Kansas journalism professor Jonathan Peters, who wrote about the issue for the Columbia Journalism Review in 2015, before several more cases were filed. “These lawsuits are an absurd practice and noxious to open government.”

    Government officials who have employed the tactic insist they are acting in good faith. They say it’s best to have courts determine whether records should be released when legal obligations are unclear — for instance, when the documents may be shielded by an exemption or privacy laws.

    “It’s not a good feeling knowing that we are being sued,” said Herald editor-in-chief Andrew Henderson, whose publication has been raising money to pay legal fees. “I just hope that something beneficial comes out of all of this for everyone involved.”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Germany on Guard Against Election Hacks, Fake News

    As the clock ticks down to elections Sunday, Germany’s cyber defense nervously hopes it’ll be third time lucky after Russia was accused of meddling in the US and French votes.

    But even if Berlin avoids a last-minute bombshell of leaks or online sabotage, it sees Moscow’s hand in fanning fears of Muslim migrants that are driving the rise of the hard-right.

    Forecasters say Chancellor Angela Merkel is almost certain to win.

    But she will also face, for the first time in German post-war history, a right-wing populist and anti-immigration party will have its own group on the opposition benches.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    For Facebook, ignorance is the business model: Social net is shocked – SHOCKED – that people behave badly
    See no evil, hear no evil, speak of no evil

    Analysis No one at Facebook had any idea anyone might use its ad tools to target “Jew haters,” said COO Sheryl Sandberg earlier this week.

    Of course not. Facebook, like its rival Google, thrives on the income of ignorance and contrition.

    To prevent money laundering, financial institutions must comply with know-your-customer laws.

    Facebook and Google know everything about their product – the people who use their free services – but as little as possible about everything else, because knowledge goes hand-in-hand with liability.

    “We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way – and that is on us,” she said. “And we did not find it ourselves – and that is also on us.”

    Ignorance is not a bug; it’s a feature. It’s how Facebook sold $100,000 in ads to Russian agents seeking to influence the 2016 election. It’s how Facebook’s Instagram republished a rape threat sent to a reporter as an ad.

    Revenue is better without responsibility.


    And it’s not a new problem. Recall Google’s $500 million settlement with the Justice Department in 2011 for allowing Canadian pharmacies to advertise prescription drugs to US customers through its AdWords service from 2003 through 2009.

    In a statement released at the time, Google said, “It’s obvious with hindsight that we shouldn’t have allowed these ads on Google in the first place.”

    It was obvious from the outset, but the glint of coin can be blinding.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Consumers are ready to pay for quality content: “Consumers want to stick to quality”

    “High-quality media provides the best possible springboard for high-quality advertising,” says Kaius Niemi, Editor-in-Chief of Helsingin Sanomat.

    Good commercial content is made with taste and right. “Program content and commercial content begin to overlap and overlap. In many cases – especially for younger target groups – commercialism is not, in principle, good or bad. It even confirms the quality definition of the content, “explains Antti Mäki, head of GroupM.

    Consumers are also willing to pay for high-quality content. “People want to stick to quality,” says Kaius Niemi.


  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Instagram uses ‘I will rape you’ post as Facebook ad in latest algorithm mishap

    When Guardian reporter Olivia Solon was sent a rape threat, she posted a screenshot on Instagram. Then the Facebook-owned company made it an a

    Instagram used a user’s image which included the text “I will rape you before I kill you, you filthy whore!” to advertise its service on Facebook, the latest example of social media algorithms boosting offensive content.

    Guardian reporter Olivia Solon recently discovered that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, made an advertisement out of a photo she had posted of a violent threat she received in an email, which said “Olivia, you fucking bitch!!!!!!!” and “I Will Rape You”.

    Instagram selected the screenshot, which she posted nearly a year ago, to advertise the photo-sharing platform to Solon’s sister this week, with the message, “See Olivia Solon’s photo and posts from friends on Instagram”.

    The ad has surfaced at a time when Facebook is facing intense scrutiny over the ethical failings of its algorithms and advertising tools. Last week, ProPublica reported that Facebook was allowing advertisers to target users interested in the topic of “Jew hater” and “How to burn Jews” – categories that the social media site had automatically created. Journalists were able to pay $30 to target “promoted posts” to the antisemitic groups.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    68 Things You Cannot Say on China’s Internet

    Song Jie, a writer in central China, knows what she can and cannot write in the romance novels she publishes online. Words that describe explicit sexual acts are out, of course. So are those for sexual organs. Even euphemisms like “behind” or “bottom” can trigger censorship by automatic software filters or a website’s employees.

    “Basically,” she said, “the sex scenes cannot be too detailed.”

    Other prohibitions inside China’s Great Firewall, the country’s system of internet filters and controls, are trickier to navigate, in part because they are subjective and even contradictory. And there are more and more of them.

    While China has long sought to block access to political material online, a flurry of new regulatory actions aims to establish a more expansive blockade, recalling an earlier era of public morality enforced by the ruling Communist Party.

    In a directive circulated this summer, the state-controlled association that polices China’s fast-growing digital media sector set out 68 categories of material that should be censored, covering a broad swath of what the world’s largest online audience might find interesting to read or watch.

    The guidelines ban material that depicts excessive drinking or gambling; that sensationalizes “bizarre or grotesque” criminal cases; that ridicules China’s historical revolutionary leaders, or current members of the army, police or judiciary; or that “publicizes the luxury life.”
    Continue reading the main story

    “Detailed” plots involving prostitution, rape and masturbation are also forbidden. So are displays of “unhealthy marital values,” which the guidelines catalog as affairs, one-night stands, partner swapping and, simply but vaguely, “sexual liberation.”

    Despite the efforts of censors, the internet has long been the most freewheeling of China’s mass media, a platform where authors and artists

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jacob Kastrenakes / The Verge:
    Twitter says it will update public policies to include the newsworthiness of tweets that potentially violate rules after Trump threatens North Korea — Twitter didn’t act to remove President Donald Trump’s tweet threatening North Korea in part because it is newsworthy, the company said today.

    Twitter pledges to update public policies after Trump threatens North Korea

    Twitter didn’t act to remove President Donald Trump’s tweet threatening North Korea in part because it is newsworthy, the company said today. Twitter says it will update its public guidance on what factors may lead to a tweet being pulled from the platform — or allowed to stay on it — to include a consideration of newsworthiness, as part of an effort to make the rules clearer to users.

    “This has long been internal policy, and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it,” the company’s public policy account wrote this afternoon. “We need to do better on this, and will.”

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Saheli Roy Choudhury / CNBC:
    China says it has imposed “maximum fines” on Baidu, Tencent, and Weibo for not censoring banned content like porn and violence on their social media platforms

    China fines tech giants for not censoring banned content ahead of October’s party congress

    Chinese internet watchdog said on Monday that it has imposed maximum fines on tech giants Baidu, Tencent and Sina Weibo for failing to adequately deal with online content
    The Cyberspace Administration of China said the companies did not do enough to deal with pornography, violence and other banned content on their platforms
    Though the regulator did not specify the fine amount, the country’s new cybersecurity law suggests it could be up to 500,000 yuan

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Jon Fingas / Engadget:
    SEC announces Cyber Unit to police violations involving distributed ledger tech and ICOs, dark web misconduct, cyber threats to critical market infrastructure

    SEC is getting serious about bitcoin fraud and fake news
    It’s forming a Cyber Unit dedicated to online financial crimes

    The US’ Securities and Exchange Commission has to deal with a lot more than classic financial crimes these days: it has to worry about everything from insider trading hacks to the integrity of the latest digital currencies. To that end, it’s creating a Cyber Unit that will focus its enforcement team on digital offenses. These include hacks, such as attempts to obtain insider info or to compromise trading platforms and accounts, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

    To start, the SEC will look at fake news when it’s used to manipulate the market, such as pumping up a stock price to sell at a higher price.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Twitter’s 280-char blog mode can be enabled client-side. Just sayin’
    Here’s some code and Curl commands to get you on the path of milliblogging

    Twitter’s plan to limit public trials of 280-character tweets has been foiled by web devs, who discovered the feature could be enabled by twits on the client-side.

    Yesterday, the milliblogging giant announced it had begun tests in which a “small group” of selected users would have their per-tweet character limit doubled from 140 to 280.

    Not surprisingly, within hours netizens began to look into the underpinnings of the feature. It wasn’t long before someone realized it could be enabled by setting a flag in the HTTP request when posting a tweet.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Playboy founder and dressing-gown wearer Hugh Hefner dead at 91
    A moment of silence, please, for the godfather of the jazz mag

    As all unabashed masturbators love to point out, pornography has historically driven technological uptake. But before the internet, Playboy was the most famous source in the world. Yesterday its founder, Hugh Hefner, died peacefully at home of natural causes aged 91.

    The godfather of the wank mag was born in Chicago in 1926 and founded Playboy in 1953, which he published from his kitchen table.

    Despite the ubiquity of online porn, the magazine is still published in 20 countries and the brand, with all its associated merch, turns over $1bn (£740m) sales per year.

    In 2015 Playboy announced it would stop publishing pictures of naked women because it had become “passé” in the internet age, but they returned in 2017.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google, Facebook, Twitter Asked to Testify in Russia Probe

    The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked top tech companies Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify about Russian interference in US politics, a Senate aide confirmed Wednesday.

    The three internet and online social media giants are expected to appear on November 1 in an open hearing on the rising evidence that they were covertly manipulated in a campaign to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

    Before that they could also testify in the House Intelligence Committee: Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, who lead the committee’s Russia probe, announced late Wednesday they too had invited representatives of technology firms to testify on Russian manipulation.

    “Congress and the American people need to hear this important information directly from these companies,” they said.

    Facebook recently revealed that for just $100,000, apparent Russia-linked buyers placed some 3,000 advertisements on its pages last year that appeared aimed at influencing the election.

    Facebook has turned the details of those ads over to investigators. According to reports, the ads sought to boost the Democratic and Republican rivals of then-election frontrunner Hillary Clinton, as well as to sow discord among Americans in ways that would damage Clinton’s voter base.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    When filters fail: These cases show we can’t trust algorithms to clean up the internet

    Today, the European Commission announced its silver-bullet solution to illegal content online: Automated upload filters!

    It has already been pushing filters to try to prevent copyright infringement – in its communication on ‘tackling illegal content online’, it is going ever further.

    The Commission now officially “strongly encourages online platforms to […] step up investment in, and use of, automatic detection technologies”. It wants platforms to make decisions about the legality of content uploaded by users without requiring a court order or even any human intervention at all: “online platforms should also be able to take swift decisions […] without being required to do so on the basis of a court order or administrative decision”.

    Installing censorship infrastructure that surveils everything people upload and letting algorithms make judgement calls about what we all can and cannot say online is an attack on our fundamental rights.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Frustrated Lawmakers Ask Facebook to Explain Its Russia Response

    Facebook, Twitter, Google invited to two committee hearings
    Zuckerberg says issue is ‘too important’ to be ‘dismissive’

    Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are set to face intense public scrutiny from U.S. House and Senate intelligence panels as investigators focus on social media’s role in Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

    Executives from all three companies were asked to appear before the Senate committee Nov. 1, while the House panel requested them next month, according to aides from both committees. The hearings come amid frustration from some senior lawmakers with what they say is Facebook’s less-than-forthcoming initial response, which has the company and its Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in particular playing defense.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Exclusive: Fake black activist accounts linked to Russian government

    A social media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. The Twitter account has been handed over to Congress; the Facebook account is expected to be handed over in the coming days.

    Both Blacktivist accounts, each of which used the handle Blacktivists, regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage. “Black people should wake up as soon as possible,” one post on the Twitter account read. “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men,” another read. The accounts also posted videos of police violence against African Americans.

    The Blacktivist accounts provide further evidence that Russian-linked social media accounts saw racial tensions as something to be exploited in order to achieve the broader Russian goal of dividing Americans and creating chaos in U.S. politics during a campaign in which race repeatedly became an issue.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chris O’Brien / VentureBeat:
    EU regulators say tech giants are still not doing enough to voluntarily remove hate speech and terrorist content, will review rules in six months

    EU tells tech companies to ‘step up’ fight against hate speech and terrorist content

    European regulators are giving Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube six months to voluntarily get more aggressive about blocking and removing hate speech and terrorist-related content. If they fail to do so, they could face possible new regulations next year.

    Today, the European Union issued new guidelines, saying it “invites online platforms to step up their efforts to remove illegal content online.” Those four companies had signed a Code of Conduct back in 2016, pledging to combat such content.

    European officials feel that while some progress has been made, it hasn’t gone as far or as fast as they’d hoped. And so with the new guidelines, the EU is also giving companies a deadline of next May, at which time there will be a review of progress and consideration as to whether new legislation is needed to force the companies to comply.

    Stepping up the EU’s efforts to tackle illegal content online

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Julie Reynolds / The Nation:
    How private equity bears blame for newspapers’ decline, buying up 679 properties since 2004 then squeezing for profit, selling assets, and laying off staff — As many as destroying America’s hometown newspapers can buy him. — In 2013, a reclusive New York tycoon and his wife began buying …

    How Many Palm Beach Mansions Does a Wall Street Tycoon Need?
    As many as destroying America’s hometown newspapers can buy him.

    Don’t just blame the Internet for journalism’s decline. Old-fashioned capitalist greed also strangles newspapers.

    Unlike large corporate owners in the past, the stated goal of the investment firms is not to keep struggling newspapers alive; it is to siphon off the assets and profits, then dispose of what little remains. Under this strategy, America’s newsrooms shriveled from 46,700 full-time journalists in 2009 to 32,900 in 2015—a loss of roughly one journalist out of every three. The American Society of Newspaper Editors stopped trying to estimate the number of working journalists in 2016 because “layoffs, buyouts, and restructuring are a norm.”

    Over the past six years, Digital First Media has become America’s second-largest newspaper chain in terms of circulation. Even as Digital First has downsized or closed its papers, it has held its edge in circulation by continually buying up more publications

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Michael Zhang / PetaPixel:
    Getty Images bans images retouched to change body shape or weight as of October 1 in response to French law requiring labels on retouched photos — Getty Images has banned photos that contain subjects whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.

    Effective October 1, 2017 a new French law obliges clients who use commercial images in France to disclose whether the body shape of a model has been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.

    As a result, also effective October 1st, we have amended our Creative Stills Submission Requirements to require that you do not submit to us any creative content depicting models whose body shapes have been retouched to make them look thinner or larger.

    Please note that other changes made to models like a change of hair color, nose shape, retouching of skin or blemishes, etc., are outside the scope of this new law, and are therefore still acceptable.

    It appears that the policy change is a blanket ban affecting worldwide contributors and not just those in France. It’s also unclear what Getty Images plans to do with policy-violating photos that are already part of its massive 80+ million photo collection.

    One Woman Photoshopped by 18 Countries: Beauty Standards Revealed

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ricardo Bilton / Nieman Lab:
    Chartbeat survey shows Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles deliver promised faster load times but ad revenue and audience increases remain in question

    Publishers are seeing real performance gains from Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles (but $$$ remains a question mark)

    For publishers, Google’s AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles are two different efforts with the same goal: creating a faster, cleaner mobile experience that can better attract and hold onto mobile readers. But a question since the inception of both products (February 2016 and May 2015, respectively) has been how much of the performance and engagement gains that Google and Facebook promised have publishers actually seen — and whether those gains have helped with revenue or overall reader retention.

    Some new data from Chartbeat suggests the affirmative, on at least the performance and engagement fronts. Analyzing the mobile traffic data and reader behavior across the sites in its network, Chartbeat found that AMP pages load 4 times faster than standard mobile sites (1.4 seconds vs. 5.3 seconds). The performance of Instant Articles was even more impressive. According to Chartbeat, nearly 90 percent of Instant Articles load too quickly for the company to register a load time.

    Overall, Chartbeat found that, as of May, publishers that adopted AMP got 16 percent of their mobile traffic from the pages, compared to 14.8 percent on Instant Articles.

    Those performance gains seem to be having a real impact on reader behavior. Readers typically spend 48 seconds on a Google AMP page, longer than the 36 seconds they hang around the typical mobile site

    But questions remain about the true impact of the efforts on publishers’ audience and ad revenue. In its whitepaper, Chartbeat also points out that, while more publishers are testing AMP, “the number of articles posted by those who have been testing the platforms for some time has leveled off.”

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lucia Moses / Digiday:
    Publishers including NBC News, HuffPost, and Condé Nast say they’re shifting resources from Facebook to platforms like Apple News, Snapchat, and Instagram

    Facebook loses attention as publishers shift focus to other platforms

    Facebook is often used interchangeably with platform domination. But some publishers are shifting their attention beyond Facebook. In interviews, several revealed they’re either spending less time on Facebook either in absolute or relative to time they’re spending on other platforms.

    Facebook is still a big source of referral traffic for publishers overall. But it has declined as a referral source relative to Google and left publishers frustrated with lagging monetization opportunities in key areas like video. Meanwhile, other platforms have stepped up, offering publishers more attention (Google and Apple News), financial rewards (Snapchat) and a growing audience and better user experience (Instagram).

    The biggest change is that they publish fewer articles and videos to Facebook, and when they do, they favor posting links that drive audiences back to the site. They’re paying more attention to referrals and share more metrics than before, too, because referral traffic can be monetized directly, and shares are a strong indication of engagement.

    HuffPost was the biggest publisher on Facebook last year in total likes, comments and shares, by NewsWhip’s measurement. This year, it’s been making a big push to diversify beyond Facebook to Twitter and Instagram, where it sees a lot of room for growth

    “This shift is about responding to the consumption habits of our changing audience and branching out to reach new audiences that present growth opportunities for us,” he said. “Merely being platform-centric represents an older way of thinking that often doesn’t always take into account what the audience is looking for.”

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tim Wu / Knight First Amendment Institute:
    The First Amendment fails to protect speech from new tactics like information flooding and online harassment, especially when government aligns with trolls — The First Amendment was a dead letter for much of American history. Unfortunately, there is reason to fear it is entering a new period of political irrelevance.

    Is the First Amendment Obsolete?

    The First Amendment was a dead letter for much of American history. Unfortunately, there is reason to fear it is entering a new period of political irrelevance. We live in a golden age of efforts by governments and other actors to control speech, discredit and harass the press, and manipulate public debate. Yet as these efforts mount, and the expressive environment deteriorates, the First Amendment has been confined to a narrow and frequently irrelevant role. Hence the question — when it comes to political speech in the twenty-first century, is the First Amendment obsolete?

    The most important change in the expressive environment can be boiled down to one idea: it is no longer speech itself that is scarce, but the attention of listeners.

    The massive decline in barriers to publishing makes information abundant, especially when speakers congregate on brightly lit matters of public controversy. The low costs of speaking have, paradoxically, made it easier to weaponize speech as a tool of speech control. The unfortunate truth is that cheap speech may be used to attack, harass, and silence as much as it is used to illuminate or debate.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Charlotte Gao / The Diplomat:
    China’s Weibo announces it is hiring 1000 “supervisors” to censor content on the service

    China’s Weibo Hires 1000 ‘Supervisors’ to Censor Content

    Weibo asks that each supervisor censor no less than 200 pieces of content per month

    As Chinese authorities are fiercely cracking down on the internet, China’s top social media platform Weibo doing its best to stay in line. On September 27, Weibo announced it would hire 1,000 “supervisors” from among its users to conduct censorship.

    Weibo said it will grant each supervisor membership, a special identity label on the platform and an online subsidy equal to 200 yuan (around $30). Furthermore, Weibo said it would reward the supervisors who have the best performance each month with iPhones, other smartphones, notebooks, or other prizes.

    According to the announcement, all supervisors, “who work on their leisure time,” should report on no less than 200 pieces of content (including both original posts and comments) that either are pornographic, illegal or harmful. The announcement didn’t clarify what content should be regarded as “harmful,” but it promised that Weibo would train the supervisors beforehand.

    Weibo claimed that the public recruitment, under the guidance of the Beijing Office of Cyberspace Affairs, is for “strengthening the netizens self-discipline and cleaning the Weibo environment.”

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode:
    Twitter told Congressional investigators it found ~200 Russia-linked accounts with 22 directly matching the 470 accounts Facebook identified

    Twitter just told Congress it found about 200 accounts linked to the same Russian agents found on Facebook
    The company met with House and Senate investigators who are probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Twitter has found roughly 200 accounts believed to be tied to some of the same Russian-linked sources that purchased ads on Facebook in an attempt to provoke political tensions during the 2016 presidential election.

    Twitter informed congressional investigators of its findings in a series of briefings in Washington, D.C., on Thursday — and the revelations are sure to stoke further speculation on Capitol Hill that Kremlin agents sought to co-opt social media platforms to stir social and political unrest in the U.S.

    Twitter checked its own database for any information related to the 470 profiles and found 22 Twitter accounts that matched. Additionally, those 22 accounts had ties to 179 other Twitter accounts, and those found in violation of Twitter rules have been suspended.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Is she Photoshopped? In France, they now have to tell you

    It’s no secret that images of models are often retouched to make their bodies look thinner or curvier in certain places, to lengthen their legs to mannequin-esque proportions, or to smooth out their skin and widen their eyes.

    From Sunday, in France, any commercial image that has been digitally altered to make a model look thinner will have a cigarette-packet style warning on it.

    “Photographie retouchée”, it will say, which translates to “edited photograph”.

    Anyone flouting the new rule could be fined €37,500 (£33,000) or 30% of the cost of creating the ad.

    The government is essentially trying to tackle persistent image-doctoring as a public health issue.

    It’s hoped the change will help tackle extreme thinness among models, and body image problems among those who aspire to shapes they cannot hope to live up to because they were faked on a computer programme.

    ‘Ads tell us who we should be’

    The veteran lecturer and campaigner Jean Kilbourne, author of Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Power of Advertising, has said: “Ads sell more than products.

    “They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps most important, of normalcy.

    “To a great extent, they tell us who we are and who we should be.”

    Instagram tricks

    This is not the only thing the French government has done recently to try and tackle excessive thinness in the country’s world-leading fashion industry. Since May, models have had to show a doctor’s note to prove they are healthy, and some top companies have banned super-thin models.

    But it’s important to remember that there are other tricks of the trade besides Photoshop alteration. Posing a certain way, taking a photo from a certain angle, lighting well or just sucking your tummy in can make a model look very different in a very short time.

    This applies both to thinness and the current trend of athletic-looking bodies, flat stomachs, and larger, squat-honed, buttocks.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Zuckerberg asks forgiveness, but Facebook needs change

    Zuckerberg has recently faced stern criticism from liberals over Facebook’s failure to block fake news and Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, while simultaneously having Facebook called “anti-Trump” by the President himself.

    “Forgiveness is denied by both. God and humanity, since you & Sheryl knew what was happening, condoned it, & then lied about both its existence and impact” tweeted Matt Ocko

    Facebook has shown significant progress in thwarting interference in elections in Germany and France, deleting malicious accounts and working closely with election commissions. But as more information about the extent of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential race emerges, Zuckerberg has come under additional fire.

    The company has repeatedly been warned of abuse and its inadequate responses, yet dismissed issues as edge-cases or bugs in its system.

    Back in 2015, Russian trolls attacked Ukrainian protesters with false reports of inappropriate content, causing their acconts to be taken down. Now news continues to unfold about Russians posting fake news and buying ads

    Matters worsened when Zuckerberg responded to Trump tweet that “Facebook was always anti-Trump” by saying “Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

    A more consistent approach of ‘I admit we were caught off guard, made mistakes regarding fake news and election interference, did not operate as a safe platform for all ideas, and here’s what we’re doing to fix it’ might be better received.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How BBC star Clare Balding nicked my byline

    An interview with the all-round good egg and nation’s darling? What could possibly go wrong … until the nightmare of ‘copy control’ started

    After 35 years as a journalist, I experienced two firsts last week. One was that I asked for my byline to be removed from an interview I had written, which was a direct consequence of the other first: the subject of my interview being given, without my prior knowledge, copy control and – in a breathtaking liberty – removing sections of my interview and replacing them with her own, self-promoting, words.

    Who is this insecure diva who does not know better about what should be an essential divide between journalism and public relations?

    More importantly, there is an unwritten pact between a publication’s journalist and reader – certainly in reputable publications, which Saga (the magazine in question) is – that what they read is real.

    The deal is that the celebrity gets their new book or film promoted to a wider public by dint of being on the cover of the magazine – as Balding is in the October issue, for her new children’s book – and a mention of the product in question.

    What they don’t get – or should never get – is permission to make alterations to the journalist’s interview before publication. And, beyond that they do not get to substitute their own words as though this is what they have said in the interview!

    Some might be tempted to shrug. “It’s only an interview with a showbiz personality. Who cares if they have copy control?” But, as one of my editor friends says: “It does matter because it erodes the integrity of our public print and means the public stop believing anything they read. Also, just because someone is famous and powerful, they should not be able to bully a publication into writing what they want printed.”

    So how did this Saga setback happen? I have been assured by the magazine staff to whom I complained that it is not normal practice for them to give celebrities copy control.

    “Clare and her agent have complained that there is way too much about her being gay in the interview, and I have to say I agree.”

    This was the point at which I asked for my name to be removed. How would Balding like it if – unbeknown to her – one of her broadcasts had some new words dubbed in, written by someone else, and under her name?

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Zeynep Tufekci / New York Times:
    Mark Zuckerberg’s “both sides” argument is a flimsy defense of Facebook’s failure to limit the spread of systematic misinformation during 2016 election — Responding to President Trump’s tweet this week that “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook …

    Zuckerberg’s Preposterous Defense of Facebook

    Responding to President Trump’s tweet this week that “Facebook was always anti-Trump,” Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, defended the company by noting that Mr. Trump’s opponents also criticize it — as having aided Mr. Trump. If everyone is upset with you, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested, you must be doing something right.

    “Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

    This doesn’t hold water at all.

    Mr. Zuckerberg’s preposterous defense of Facebook’s failure in the 2016 presidential campaign is a reminder of a structural asymmetry in American politics. It’s true that mainstream news outlets employ many liberals, and that this creates some systemic distortions in coverage (effects of trade policies on lower-income workers and the plight of rural America tend to be underreported, for example). But bias in the digital sphere is structurally different from that in mass media, and a lot more complicated than what programmers believe.

    In a largely automated platform like Facebook, what matters most is not the political beliefs of the employees but the structures, algorithms and incentives they set up, as well as what oversight, if any, they employ to guard against deception, misinformation and illegitimate meddling. And the unfortunate truth is that by design, business model and algorithm, Facebook has made it easy for it to be weaponized to spread misinformation and fraudulent content. Sadly, this business model is also lucrative, especially during elections. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, called the 2016 election “a big deal in terms of ad spend” for the company, and it was. No wonder there has been increasing scrutiny of the platform.

    However, at the slightest sign that Facebook might be pressured to institute at least some sensible oversight (as has happened recently in the German and French elections, when the platform mass-deleted fake accounts), right-wing groups and politicians can swiftly bring Facebook to its heels with charges of bias, because Facebook responds to such pressure as much of the traditional media do: by caving and hiding behind flimsy “there are two sides to everything” arguments.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dylan Byers / CNNMoney:
    Facebook says it will disclose the contents of 3,000+ Russian-linked US political ads to Congress on Monday, has no plans to publicly release

    Facebook to give Russian-linked ads to Congress on Monday

    Facebook says it will give Congress copies of 3,000 Russian-bought political ads on Monday, giving lawmakers a clearer picture into how a pro-Kremlin troll farm used social media to meddle in American politics.

    Facebook is not planning to release the ads to the public, and will not commit to sharing publicly greater details about the content of the ads and who they reached.

    The move comes nearly one month after Facebook representatives informed lawmakers about the ads, and a week-and-a-half after CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to hand over them over amid mounting pressure from Democratic Senators.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google scraps controversial policy that gave free access to paywalled articles through search
    Publishers are cautiously optimistic

    Google is ending its controversial First Click Free (FCF) policy that publishers loathed because it required them to allow Google search results access to news articles hidden behind a paywall. The company is replacing the decade-old FCF with Flexible Sampling, which allows publishers instead to decide how many (if any) articles they want to allow potential subscribers to access. Google says it’s also working on a suite of new tools to help publishers reach new audiences and grow revenue.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook will hire 1,000 and make ads visible to fight election interference

    Today Facebook handed over 3,000 ads to congressional investigators that were bought by a Russian company to influence U.S. politics. “Many appear to exploit racial and social divisions and exploit ugly stereotypes. We find this interference deeply offensive” a Facebook spokesperson wrote this morning.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sahil Patel / Digiday:
    Facebook’s mid-roll ads lead to little income with one pub claiming average CPM of 15 cents and another making $500 on 20M views, including non-monetized views

    Pivot to pennies: Facebook’s key video ad program isn’t delivering much money to publishers

    Six months in, Facebook’s test of mid-roll ad breaks within live and on-demand videos is driving scant revenue for publishers.

    Five publishers participating in Facebook’s mid-roll ads test, which began in March, said the product isn’t generating much money. One publisher said its Facebook-monetized videos had an average CPM of 15 cents. A second publisher, which calculated ad rates based on video views that lasted long enough to reach the ad break, said the average CPM for its mid-rolls is 75 cents.

    A third publisher made roughly $500 from more than 20 million total video views on that page in September.* (This publisher had not calculated its CPM, as its total video view count includes videos that were not monetized by Facebook mid-rolls.) A fourth publisher confirmed revenue was low without giving specifics.

    All six publishers Digiday interviewed for this story generate hundreds of millions of views per month on Facebook.

    “They are paying literal pennies in CPMs,” said the first publishing source. “They are only paying if a view gets to the 20-second mark and the user consumes the ad. But if Facebook is counting views at 3 seconds, the majority of the views are not going to quality. If you got a million views on a piece of content, maybe 100,000 of them would actually get to the mid-roll.”

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Search and social media was filled with clickbait and propaganda in the wake of Vegas shooting

    In the wake of what is now the worst mass-shooting in U.S. history, thousands of people turning to social media for information on the unfolding investigation earlier this morning would have found many of the top posts on most of the major websites to be hot garbage.

    Letting an algorithm cull links from the sewer of internet commentary, and then distributing that to millions of people, is a losing game. It’s another sign of how Facebook and the rest continue to abdicate responsibility.

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Following Las Vegas shooting, Facebook’s Safety Check page filled with scammers and hoaxes
    Con artists are targeting the heavily trafficked service

    Since 2014, Facebook has offered a service called Safety Check in the wake of dangerous incidents. If you have the Facebook mobile app and are in an area hit by something like a natural disaster, Facebook may trigger a push notification asking you to verify your status. If you mark yourself as safe, the system will automatically add a post to your News Feed with that message, so anyone checking on you can see quickly that you’re okay.

    Facebook also creates a dedicated page where users can check in on friends in the affected area and see breaking news. That last feature has become a vector for scammers and con artists looking to drive traffic to their services and sites. This morning, the Facebook Safety Check page for the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas featured a video soliciting donations to a Bitcoin wallet, photos from the AANR Midwest American Association for Nude Recreation, and a story (since retracted), that described the shooter as a “Trump-hating Rachel Maddow fan.”

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook says ads that ran on the company’s social media platform and have been linked to a Russian internet agency were seen by an estimated 10 million people before and after the 2016 election.

    The company said it found 450 accounts and about $100,000 was spent on the ads.

    for 99 percent of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

    The company turned 3,000 ads over to three congressional committees Monday as part of their investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

    Hard Questions: Russian Ads Delivered to Congress

    Here are a few other facts about the ads:

    An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the ads. We were able to approximate the number of unique people (“reach”) who saw at least one of these ads, with our best modeling
    44% of total ad impressions (number of times ads were displayed) were before the US election on November 8, 2016; 56% were after the election.
    Roughly 25% of the ads were never shown to anyone. That’s because advertising auctions are designed so that ads reach people based on relevance, and certain ads may not reach anyone as a result.
    For 50% of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99% of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent.

    Why can’t you catch every ad that breaks your rules?
    We review millions of ads each week, and about 8 million people report ads to us each day. In the last year alone, we have significantly grown the number of people working on ad review. And in order to do better at catching abuse on our platform, we’re announcing a number of improvements, including:

    Making advertising more transparent
    Strengthening enforcement against improper ads
    Tightening restrictions on advertiser content
    Increasing requirements for authenticity
    Establishing industry standards and best practices

    Weren’t some of these ads paid for in Russian currency? Why didn’t your ad review system notice this and bring the ads to your attention?
    Some of the ads were paid for in Russian currency. Currency alone isn’t a good way of identifying suspicious activity, because the overwhelming majority of advertisers who pay in Russian currency, like the overwhelming majority of people who access Facebook from Russia, aren’t doing anything wrong.

  47. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shan Wang / Nieman Lab:
    Interactive news features often break or disappear from the web, worrying archivists — “I like to talk about it as reading today’s news on tomorrow’s computer.” — So many pioneering works of digital journalism no longer exist online, or exist only as a shadow of their former selves.

    The internet isn’t forever. Is there an effective way to preserve great online interactives and news apps?

    “I like to talk about it as reading today’s news on tomorrow’s computer.”

    So many pioneering works of digital journalism no longer exist online, or exist only as a shadow of their former selves.

    he Guardian’s 2009 coverage of the MP expenses scandal, for instance, which included a massive crowdsourcing effort and hundreds of thousands of documents (a project we wrote up at Nieman Lab): The stories that anchored that coverage are nowhere to be found on

    A lavish online multimedia experience built around a Pulitzer Prize-nominated work, which explored the legacy of a deadly 1961 bus-train collision in Colorado, from the now defunct Rocky Mountain News

    You get the picture.

    “We were told the internet was forever. That was kind of a lie,” Meredith Broussard, currently a professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, told me. “I’ve been writing for the web since 1996 or so, and all of my early work is gone. It only exists in paper files in archival boxes somewhere in my apartment. Unless somebody is maintaining internet sites, they go away — and somebody needs to be paying the bill for the server.”

    “News apps can’t be preserved the same way you preserve the static webpage,” Broussard said. The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is dependable for finding a snapshot in time, but a searcher needs to know the time frame of what they’re looking for, and snapshots don’t really capture a complicated, database-driven project or any site with a lot of dynamic links. “The way to capture these is from the backend. You can grab the whole database — all of the images from the server side, and so forth. We’re looking to build server-side tools that will allow for automated, large-scale, long-term archiving of data journalism projects.”

    Boss and Broussard’s first move has been surveying developers and journalists on the tech used to make and store their news apps. The preliminary survey returned a range of technologies, frameworks, and platforms: Flask, Django, Ruby, Node.js, d3, AWS, Heroku, and on and on.

  48. Tomi Engdahl says:

    More Than 80 Percent of All Net Neutrality Comments Were Sent By Bots, Researchers Say

    The Trump administration and its embattled FCC commissioner are on a mission to roll back the pro-net neutrality rules approved during the Obama years, despite the fact that most Americans support those safeguards. But there is a large number of entities that do not: telecom companies, their lobbyists, and hordes of bots. Of all the more than 22 million comments submitted to the FCC website and through the agency’s API found that only 3,863,929 comments were “unique,” according to a new analysis by Gravwell,

    Discovering truth through lies on the internet – FCC comments analyzed

    For this post, the Gravwell analytics team ingested all 22 million+ comments submitted to the FCC over the net neutrality issue. Using Gravwell we were able to rapidly conduct a variety of analysis against the data to pull out some pretty interesting findings. We scraped the entirety of the FCC comments over the course of a night and ingested them into Gravwell afterward. It took about an hour of poking around to get a handle on what the data was and the following research was conducted over about a 12 hour period. So we went from zero knowledge to interesting insights in half a day. We’re kinda nerding out about it.

    A very small minority of comments are unique — only 17.4% of the 22,152,276 total. The highest occurrence of a single comment was over 1 million.
    Most comments were submitted in bulk and many come in batches with obviously incorrect information — over 1,000,000 comments in July claimed to have a email address
    Bot herders can be observed launching the bots — there are submissions from people living in the state of “{STATE}” that happen minutes before a large number of comment submissions

  49. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Scientific Papers Are Getting Less Readable

    “The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time”, according to a new paper just out. Swedish researchers Pontus Plaven-Sigray and colleagues say that scientists today use longer and more complex words than those of the past, making their writing harder to read. But what does it mean?

    What’s driving the change? These readability metrics are based on a combination of the average sentence length and the average word length (Flesch) or word ‘commonness’ (Dale-Chall).

    In particular, Plaven-Sigray et al. point to increases in the use of what they call “general scientific jargon” or “science-ese”

    ‘Science-ese’, they say, includes words like “moreover”, “underlying”, “robust”, and “suggesting”. While not scientific terms per se, these are rarely used outside scholarly discourse today.

    Overall, the authors conclude that:

    We have shown a steady decrease of readability over time in the scientific literature… Lower readability implies less accessibility, particularly for non-specialists, such as journalists, policy-makers and the wider public… decreasing readability cannot be a positive development for efforts to accurately communicate science to non-specialists.

  50. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AOL and Yahoo plan to call themselves by a new name after the Verizon deal closes: ‘Oath’

    When Verizon merges Yahoo with AOL after its acquisition of Yahoo closes, the newly created division will get a new name.

    And that new name is “Oath,” sources tell Business Insider.

    In a deal that was first announced last July, Verizon will acquire Yahoo’s core internet business for about $4.83 billion in cash.

    Yahoo will then be merged with Verizon’s AOL unit under Marni Walden – the executive vice president and president of product innovation and new businesses – with Verizon scooping up Yahoo’s search, mail, content, and ad-tech businesses.

    In January, Yahoo announced in an SEC filing that following the close of the merger, the parts of Yahoo that Verizon is not buying (which includes Yahoo’s 15% of Chinese retail giant Alibaba and a part of Yahoo Japan, a joint venture with Softbank) will continue on under the name to Altaba.


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