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:

    New data shows that Russian propaganda may have been shared billions of times on Facebook

    A Columbia University social media analyst has published his findings about the reach and engagement achieved by Russia-linked Facebook pages during the 2016 election.

    The research, released on Thursday by Jonathan Albright, a propaganda and misinformation expert who heads Columbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, shines a light on the extent to which US voters were exposed to, and interacted with, politically divisive content pushed by Russia between 2015-2016.

    Albright analyzed Facebook pages like “Blacktivists,” “Being Patriotic,” and “Secured Borders” that were shut down by the company as part of its purge of “inauthentic” accounts linked to Russia. He also looked at “Heart of Texas,” LGBT United, and “Muslims of America.”

    These are the only six pages, so far, that Facebook has acknowledged have ties to Russia. The company shut down 470 pages linked to Russia’s shadowy Internet Research Agency early last month.

    Albright used Facebook’s own analytics tool, CrowdTangle, to assess the data, and downloaded the last 500 posts each account shared before being shut down. He also made public the full text of the posts, which were shared over 340 million times between the six accounts.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Dieter Bohn / The Verge:
    Interview with Sundar Pichai on AI and how it’s used in Google products, like its Clips camera, Google Maps, and Android — ‘We feel huge responsibility’ to get information right — Unbeknownst to me, at the very moment on Monday morning when I was asking Google CEO Sundar Pichai …

    Sundar Pichai says the future of Google is AI. But can he fix the algorithm?
    ‘We feel huge responsibility’ to get information right

    Unbeknownst to me, at the very moment on Monday morning when I was asking Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the biggest ethical concern for AI today, Google’s algorithms were promoting misinformation about the Las Vegas shooting.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Steven T. Dennis / Bloomberg:
    Senate intel panel calls Facebook, Twitter, Google execs to testify at a Nov. 1 public hearing, says it’s up to firms to disclose contents of Russian-linked ads

    Russia-Financed Facebook Ads Had Diverse Targets, Official Says

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Paul Lewis / The Guardian:
    Former Facebook, Google, Twitter employees on how they fear the unintended and negative consequences of the attention economy-driven tech they helped develop

    ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

    Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention

    Justin Rosenstein had tweaked his laptop’s operating system to block Reddit, banned himself from Snapchat, which he compares to heroin, and imposed limits on his use of Facebook. But even that wasn’t enough. In August, the 34-year-old tech executive took a more radical step to restrict his use of social media and other addictive technologies.

    Rosenstein purchased a new iPhone and instructed his assistant to set up a parental-control feature to prevent him from downloading any apps.

    He was particularly aware of the allure of Facebook “likes”, which he describes as “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” that can be as hollow as they are seductive. And Rosenstein should know: he was the Facebook engineer who created the “like” button in the first place.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In email to advertisers, Facebook says it’ll manually review ads that target users based on politics, religion, ethnicity, or social issues before they go live

    Facebook tells advertisers more scrutiny is coming

    Facebook is going to require ads that are targeted to people based on “politics, religion, ethnicity or social issues” to be manually reviewed before they go live, according to an email sent to advertisers and obtained by Axios. That’s a higher standard than that required of most Facebook ads, which are bought and uploaded to the site through an automated system. It’s also warning that it expects the new policy to slow down the launch of new ad campaigns.

    Details are required by law to be publicly disclosed about political ads running on TV stations, including cable and satellite networks. But that requirement does not extend to digital platforms.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shareen Pathak / Digiday:
    Inside Amazon’s push into advertising, as company prepares to open 2,000 person office, mostly for ad jobs, in New York

    How Amazon is readying its blitz on the ad industry

    Amazon continues to make serious inroads into the advertising business. Its latest move: a new office in Manhattan that it says will bring 2,000 jobs, mostly in advertising, to the city — and closer to Madison Avenue. Multiple media agency executives in New York said they’ve been hearing more from Amazon reps who are trying to sell them and their clients on Amazon advertising. Another executive said he’s hearing from Amazon more, and Amazon has hired programmatic specialists from his agency in New York.

    Amazon’s sales team for advertising is growing fast: It’s different from other platforms in that its team works cross-functionally across advertising and retail. For larger brands, Amazon has dedicated teams. The company has had a team in New York for many years but also has big ad presences in other places including Tokyo and Paris — “anywhere there are ad agencies in place,” said Saurabh Sharma, director of programmatic at Amazon.

    Amazon is increasingly trying to pitch to what the company dubs “non-endemic” advertisers — brands that don’t sell on Amazon.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Paul Lewis / The Guardian:
    Former Facebook, Google, Twitter employees on how they fear the unintended and negative consequences of the attention economy-driven tech they helped develop — Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks who worry the race for human attention has created a world of perpetual distraction that could ultimately end in disaster

    Weekend magazine technology special
    ‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

    Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention

    I have two kids and I regret every minute that I’m not paying attention to them because my smartphone has sucked me in
    Loren Brichter, app designer

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Are smartphones really making our children sad?

    US psychologist Jean Twenge, who has claimed that social media is having a malign affect on the young, answers critics who accuse her of crying wolf

    Last week, the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, launched a campaign to help parents regulate internet and smartphone use at home. She suggested that the overconsumption of social media was a problem akin to that of junk-food diets. “None of us, as parents, would want our children to eat junk food all the time – double cheeseburger, chips, every day, every meal,” she said. “For those same reasons, we shouldn’t want our children to do the same with their online time.”

    Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching – review

    A fascinating study by Adam Alter explains why many of us find our smartphones and computers so addictive

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    If Ads Don’t Work, Can Publishers Strike Subscription Gold?

    Tony Haile spent seven years trying to save the internet from click-based hell. As CEO of Chartbeat, a software and data provider to publishers, he showed editors, in real time, which stories were “trending” on their sites. He hoped the information would convince media companies and advertisers that their primary way of doing business online—through banner ads, sold through split-second digital auctions for fractions of pennies—could not last. At industry conferences, he presented chart after chart showing the emerging duopoly of Facebook and Google, the commoditization of quality journalism, and the perils of clickbait content strategies.

    It was hard to disagree. Analysts estimate that Google and Facebook captured all, or virtually all, of the growth in digital ads last year. Elsewhere, readers don’t look at display ads, let alone click on them. The average clickthrough rate is a measly 0.05 percent, so publishers covered their sites with increasingly obtrusive ads. In 2016, the use of ad blockers increased by 30 percent

    Chartbeat’s solution—selling ads based on metrics like time spent and engagement—failed to catch on.

    “Change is remarkably slow,”

    Publishers gave the product away for free to amass scale, then sold ads against clicks. In 2016 advertisers spent $72.5 billion on digital ads in the US.

    In the 90’s, no one foresaw the fraud, commoditization, ad blockers, brand-safety issues, or clickbait battles that now trouble the industry. The swirl of problems, combined with media industry’s revenue struggles, has conjured descriptions of an industry that’s “off the rails,” facing a “moral struggle,” and in danger of a “subprime advertising crisis.” Even industry insiders join the self-loathing.

    One venture capitalist has called digital advertising “a prank the tech industry played on the media industry.”

    Hence the renewed interest in subscriptions, despite the model’s mixed past record. Paid social networks like and Diaspora flamed out despite hype, while subscription content startups such as Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish struggled or remained niche.

    The newcomers include Patreon, whose software platform allows bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters to collect pledges directly from their fans.

    San Francisco-based Scribd started 10 years ago as a free document-sharing site, amassing 100 million monthly visitors to its document database. That’s a sizable audience, but it’s a rounding error for Facebook and Google.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America

    More broadly, mindfulness meditation isn’t warm and fuzzy. In a certain sense it’s cool and clinical. It involves, among other things, examining your feelings and deciding whether to buy into them, whether to let them carry you away.

    Obviously, America could stand for people to be a little less susceptible to getting carried away by their feelings. But the contribution mindfulness can make to bridging the great tribal divide is more powerful than that simple formulation suggests. To appreciate this potential, you have to understand how subtle the psychology of tribalism is.

    Tribal psychology involves, at one level, some obvious ingredients: rage, vengeance, loathing—the kinds of raw emotions you might imagine when you imagine tribes literally at war. But the psychology of tribalism also involves—in fact, I’d say, it mainly involves—cognitive biases that warp our perception of the world.

    Cognitive biases have gotten a lot of attention in the popular psychology literature over the past decade.

    Consider the role confirmation bias can play in “fake news,” false or deeply misleading information that spreads widely, typically via social media.

    Such information is sometimes spread cynically and knowingly. But often it is spread unknowingly, by people who click “retweet” or “share” without first investigating what they’re sharing. A

    Indeed, if you pay close attention at the moment you’re sharing this kind of news on social media, you may observe a sequence of feelings: a positive feeling upon seeing the news, the subtle but palpable urge to spread it, and the feeling of gratification you get upon spreading it—a gratification that is deepened if this addition to the nation’s discourse then gets a lot of retweets, shares, or likes. These are the feelings that can make you part of the fake news problem.

    Obviously, meditation won’t singlehandedly end fake news. But I think it would reduce the fuel supply for false and slanted information. And that could make a big difference, because the problem with such information isn’t just that it confuses the people who believe it. It also has an unfortunate influence on the people who don’t believe it—the people in the tribe who didn’t spread it. It reinforces their belief that the people in the other tribe are, at worst, knowingly lying and, at best, deeply confused.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Ask Slashdot: Is Deliberately Misleading People On the Internet Free Speech?

    Under a myriad of different internet sites and blogs are these click-through adverts that promise quick “miracle cures” for everything from toenail fungus to hair loss to tinnitus to age-related skin wrinkles to cancer. A lot of the ads begin with copy that reads “This one weird trick cures…..” Most of the “cures” on offer are complete and utter crap designed to lift a few dollars from the credit cards of hundreds of thousands of gullible internet users

    So the question — is peddling this stuff online really “free speech”? You are promising something grandiose in exchange for hard cash that you know doesn’t deliver any benefits at all.

    Long-time Slashdot reader apraetor counters, “But how do you determine what is ‘true’?” And Slashdot reader ToTheStars argues “It’s already established that making claims about medicine is subject to scrutiny by the FDA (or the relevant authority in your jurisdiction).” But are other things the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre?

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Washington Post:
    Google finds Russian-bought ads worth tens of thousands of dollars on YouTube, Gmail, DoubleClick, which were part of effort to influence the 2016 election — SAN FRANCISCO — Google for the first time has uncovered evidence that Russian operatives exploited the company’s platforms in an attempt …
    he Switch
    Google uncovers Russian-bought ads on YouTube, Gmail and other platforms

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New York Times:
    Analysis shows that much of the content found on Russia-linked Facebook pages used in 2016 election was taken directly from Americans — YouTube videos of police beatings on American streets. A widely circulated internet hoax about Muslim men in Michigan collecting welfare for multiple wives.

    How Russia Harvested American Rage to Reshape U.S. Politics

    YouTube videos of police beatings on American streets. A widely circulated internet hoax about Muslim men in Michigan collecting welfare for multiple wives. A local news story about two veterans brutally mugged on a freezing winter night.

    All of these were recorded, posted or written by Americans. Yet all ended up becoming grist for a network of Facebook pages linked to a shadowy Russian company that has carried out propaganda campaigns for the Kremlin, and which is now believed to be at the center of a far-reaching Russian program to influence the 2016 presidential election.

    A New York Times examination of hundreds of those posts shows that one of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.

    The Russian pages — with names like “Being Patriotic,” “Secured Borders” and “Blacktivist” — cribbed complaints about federal agents from one conservative website, and a gauzy article about a veteran who became an entrepreneur from People magazine. They took descriptions and videos of police beatings from genuine YouTube and Facebook accounts and reposted them, sometimes lightly edited for maximum effect.

    The Russians also paid Facebook to promote their posts in the feeds of American Facebook users, helping them test what content would circulate most widely, and among which audiences.

    “This is cultural hacking,” said Jonathan Albright, research director at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. “They are using systems that were already set up by these platforms to increase engagement. They’re feeding outrage — and it’s easy to do, because outrage and emotion is how people share.”

    Copying other people’s content without proper attribution can be a violation of the social networks’ rules. But the content itself — the videos, posts and Instagram memes borrowed and shared on the Russian pages — are not explicitly violent or discriminatory, so they do not violate the rules of those services. Instead, they are precisely the type of engaging content these platforms are hungry for.

    “The strategies are no mystery,” said Michael Strangelove, a lecturer on internet culture at the University of Ottawa. “Foreign powers are playing within the rules of the game that we wrote.”

    “The challenges posed by the dissemination of fake news and other harmful content through technology platforms are serious,” said Nicole Leverich, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn.

    ” they’re throwing seeds and fertilizer onto social media,”

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Doug Zanger / The Drum:
    Flipboard launches self-service program for publishers, will now highlight mobile friendly sites with a lightning bolt icon — Flipboard has announced a new publisher-centric, self-service platform with the intention of leveraging mobile standards and a program that rewards reader-friendly content on the platform.

    Flipboard debuts self-service program to expand publisher opportunity

    Flipboard has announced a new publisher-centric, self-service platform with the intention of leveraging mobile standards and a program that rewards reader-friendly content on the platform.

    With an audience of more than 100 million a month, Flipboard is, essentially, giving all publishers, no matter the size, the opportunity to optimize content in a way that has been reserved for those who were part of a previous, more hand-crafted approach such as The New York Times and Washington Post.

    Flipboard, which aggregates content into digital ‘smart’ magazines, has seen a significant amount of its traffic coming from mobile, with noting in August that “(Flipboard to publisher) traffic almost exclusively comes from a tablet, phone or other mobile device; 99.4% of Flipboard’s referrals in the first half of June were via mobile. In fact, when we narrow our scope to mobile consumption, Flipboard becomes the fourth most common referrer to sites in our network, right behind Twitter.”

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pierre Omidyar / Washington Post:
    Study: social media has become a direct threat to democracy in areas such as echo chambers, misinformation, manipulation, micro-targeting, hate speech — Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, is a philanthropist, technologist and humanitarian. He is a member of The WorldPost editorial board.

    Pierre Omidyar: 6 ways social media has become a direct threat to democracy

    The initial findings are detailed in a paper that identifies six key areas where social media has become a direct threat to our democratic ideals:

    1. Echo chambers, polarization and hyper-partisanship
    2. Spread of false or misleading information
    3. Conflation of popularity with legitimacy
    4. Political manipulation
    5. Manipulation, micro-targeting and behavior change
    6. Intolerance, exclusion and hate speech

    Just as new regulations and policies had to be established for the evolving online commerce sector, social media companies must now help navigate the serious threats posed by their platforms and help lead the development and enforcement of clear industry safeguards. Change won’t happen overnight, and these issues will require ongoing examination, collaboration and vigilance to effectively turn the tide.

    Is Social Media a Threat to Democracy?

    The advent of social media introduced transformative platforms for people to share thoughts and information in entertaining and connective ways. But the benefits are increasingly being overshadowed by negative consequences as the monetization—and manipulation—of information threatens to tear us apart.

    A healthy democracy relies on informed and engaged citizens, and we hope this research empowers you with detailed information you need to better understand the current threats posed by social media.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Shira Ovide / Bloomberg:
    In the last year, Google has paid partners, including Apple and Android device manufacturers, $7.2B to be the default search, over 3x what it paid in 2012 — Traffic acquisition costs raise concern about pressure on margins. — There’s a $19 billion black box inside Google.

    Peering Inside Google’s $19 Billion Black Box

    Traffic acquisition costs raise concern about pressure on margins.

    There’s a $19 billion black box inside Google. That’s the yearly amount Google pays to companies that help generate its advertising sales, from the websites lined with Google-served ads to Apple and others that plant Google’s search box or apps in prominent spots.

    Investors are obsessed with this money, called traffic acquisition costs, and they’re particularly worried about the growing slice of those payments going to Apple and Google’s Android allies. That chunk of fees now amounts to 11 percent of revenue for Google’s internet properties. The figure was 7 percent in 2012.

    The worry is the traffic toll will keep climbing and squeeze the plump Google profit margins investors love. Let me add a risk that is so far theoretical but nevertheless intriguing.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook is trapped between free speech and fake news

    The trouble with Sandberg saying Facebook allows fake news ads

    If the Russian-bought election interference ads hadn’t been bought by fraudulent accounts, “Most of them would be allowed to run” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said this morning. “The responsibility of an open platform is to allow people to express themselves” she said during the first of an Axios interview series with Facebook execs.

    “The thing about free expression is when you allow free expression you allow free expression” Sandberg said, noting that “we don’t check what people post” and that she doesn’t think people should want Facebook to.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The end of oversharing

    The early 2000s were the era of user-generated content.

    Inherent in this plan was the idea that UGC was somehow purer and more desirable than commercial communications. This era lasted from about 1993 until about 2008. This was the era of an unfettered Internet, of the Cluetrain Manifesto, and of open source everything. The ethos was pure anarchy in its best light. No one would control your output, no one would stand between you and your fans, no one would take a cut of your money. Bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers would get rich simply because they existed.

    Inherent in this plan was the idea that UGC was somehow purer and more desirable than commercial communications. This era lasted from about 1993 until about 2008. This was the era of an unfettered Internet, of the Cluetrain Manifesto, and of open source everything. The ethos was pure anarchy in its best light. No one would control your output, no one would stand between you and your fans, no one would take a cut of your money. Bloggers, tweeters, and Facebookers would get rich simply because they existed.

    “Twitter was built at the tail end of that era,” writes designer Mike Monteiro. “Their goal was giving everyone a voice. They were so obsessed with giving everyone a voice that they never stopped to wonder what would happen when everyone got one. And they never asked themselves what everyone meant. That’s Twitter’s original sin. Like Oppenheimer, Twitter was so obsessed with splitting the atom they never stopped to think what we’d do with it.”

    Interestingly, I think we now know what they’d do with it. And what Facebook would do with it. And what the Internet would do with all of that UGC. They would sell our content to programmatic advertisers and put us directly in the crosshairs of every social media analyst with a fringe political agenda. And now the users who were generating that content are about to fight back.

    First, Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram, to a degree) should take defections by high-profile users seriously.

    Early users of all social media joined because of that original promise of fame, fun, riches, and relationships. They leave now because the walled gardens are overrun by marketing and trolls. This can be said of every major platform. No one is safe. What works online? A repurposing of the original DIY ethos into

    So we stand on a precipice waiting to drop. What media social media gives rise to in the next decade is anyone’s guess – rich people are betting on VR but that’s still a tough sell. We are in an interstitial period, like the point in the late 1980s when you could still compare the nascent Internet to CB radio.

    compare the nascent Internet to CB radio. We don’t have maps to future territories. Will we collectively give up, splayed naked on the screen for all to market to? Will we turn inward using apps like Signal and Telegram to ensure no one can see us? Will we turn social media into more of a money-making channel for folks with six-packs and mischievous grins? Or can we expect something else entirely?

    What I know is that it is, in short, a turn toward the end of oversharing.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Silenced by ‘free speech’

    Permitting abuse under the guise of “free speech” actually dismantles free speech by allowing perpetrators to bully victims into silence until they retreat. From these apps. From their causes. From their beliefs.

    Civil free speech is sacrificed in exchange for hatred, degradation and threats. Who can respectfully speak up for their convictions if they’re immediately shouted down?

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:


    LAST WEDNESDAY PRESIDENT Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest the government should challenge broadcasting licenses for stations that air “fake news.”

    Tuesday, six days after the president’s initial tweet calling for a challenge of NBC’s broadcast licenses, Pai finally assured the public that the agency has no intention of revoking licenses over critical reporting.

    “The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment,” Pai said

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Facebook and Google competed for anti-immigration ad dollars during the 2016 election

    In a textbook illustration of the conflict of interest between Facebook and Google’s ostensible dedication to free speech and their ostensible espousal of progressive values, the internet giants reportedly took millions in advertising money from a major anti-immigration group at the same time as both were engaged in pro-immigration advocacy.

    Bloomberg reports that both companies worked with Secure America Now, which spent millions on ads on the platforms during the 2016 election. SAN’s ads were execrable scaremongering, invoking the phantom threat of Sharia law being applied worldwide

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Laura Hazard Owen / Nieman Lab:
    Pew survey of 1,116 technologists and other experts: consensus that current environment is conducive to misinfo; 51% say things won’t improve over next decade

    There is “nothing resembling consensus” about whether the online misinformation problem can actually be solved

    It can be nice to hear from experts (even the so-called experts) how things are going to shake out. But in the case of fake news and misinformation online, unfortunately, all we have is more uncertainty: 51 percent of “internet and technology experts” surveyed by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center think that things are not going to get better, according to a study released Thursday. Forty-nine percent, meanwhile, think that the information environment will improve.

    “Both camps of experts share the view that the current environment allows ‘fake news’ and weaponized narratives to flourish, but there is nothing resembling consensus about whether this problem can be successfully addressed in the coming decade,” Lee Rainie, Pew Research Center’s director of internet and technology research, said in a statement.

    The side that you fall on seems to depend on two main things: How much you believe in the goodness of human nature, and whether you think technology is a force for good or evil.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Memo to Facebook: How to Tell If You’re a Media Company

    On Thursday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg repeated a Facebook talking point that’s beginning to wear thin. Asked if Facebook is a media company, she resisted the characterization. “At our heart we’re a tech company, we hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters, no one’s a journalist, we don’t cover the news,” she said.

    Facebook does not want to be viewed as a media company, which would bring a responsibility to the truth and potential accusations of bias. (Being a mere tech platform that surfaces content via algorithm does not). Admitting Facebook is a media company would require Facebook to take responsibility for its role in the spread of fake news, propaganda, and illegal Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

    To help Facebook executives who may be confused, we compiled this helpful guide:

    Are you the country’s largest source of news?
    Do you sell ads against content?
    Do you commission publishers and content providers to make original content for you to distribute?
    Do you have a massive workforce of content moderators?
    Do you work with fact checkers to suppress false news and hoaxes?
    Does your founder and CEO more or less admit it?
    Have you partnered with a media company to attract viewers to your own livestreaming platform?

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Twitter unveils user safety roadmap through Jan. 2018: expand definitions of non-consensual nudity, update policy around hate, add info for suspended accounts — As we said last week, we’re updating our approach to make Twitter a safer place. This won’t be a quick or easy fix, but we’re committed to getting it right.

    A Calendar of Our Safety Work

    As we said last week, we’re updating our approach to make Twitter a safer place. This won’t be a quick or easy fix, but we’re committed to getting it right. Far too often in the past we’ve said we’d do better and promised transparency but have fallen short in our efforts. Starting today, you can expect regular, real-time updates about our progress.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode:
    Senate bill on political ads, called the Honest Ads Act, would regulate web firms with 50M+ annual visitors, require copies of ads and info on $500+/year buyers — An early look at the Honest Ads Act by Sens. Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar and John McCain — A trio of top Senate lawmakers …

    Here’s how U.S. lawmakers want to regulate political ads on Facebook, Google and Twitter
    An early look at the Honest Ads Act by Sens. Mark Warner, Amy Klobuchar and John McCain

    A trio of top Senate lawmakers is commencing a new push today to regulate the political ads that appear on Facebook, Google and Twitter, as Congress seeks to thwart the Russian government from spreading disinformation ahead of another U.S. election.

    The new bill is called the Honest Ads Act, and it’s the brainchild of Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar. In recent days, they’ve also enlisted critical Republican support from Sen. John McCain. Their measure, in short, would require tech giants for the first time to make copies of political ads — and information about the audience those ads targeted — available for public inspection.

    The proposal arrives as congressional lawmakers continue to probe the extent to which Russian-aligned agents sought to co-opt Facebook, Google and Twitter before and after the 2016 presidential race.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A look at Sundar Pichai’s challenges as Google struggles with criticism over fake news, sexism in its own ranks, fears of AI, and anti-trust cases in Europe

    Everyone’s Mad at Google and Sundar Pichai Has to Fix It

    The CEO is increasingly boxed in by regulators, tech critics on both the right and the left, and even his own employees

    “I find it difficult to walk and type emails at the same time,” he says. “I’m not good at multitasking.”

    That’s a problem, because being chief executive of Google lately has pretty much required world-champion grandmaster multitasking skills. Pichai has to run the world’s second-most-valuable company while managing political attacks and cultural blowups that seem to arrive every week. Since he was appointed Larry Page’s successor two years ago, he’s had to deal with a staff protest over the president’s immigration policy, a prolonged standoff with advertisers over unseemly videos on YouTube, a record regulatory fine, debates about gender inequality, and a growing sense around the globe that the tech giants—Google chief among them—are too big, too powerful, and perhaps too careless with the trust that their billions of users have invested in them.

    Then, of course, there’s the matter of fake news. In the past few months, investigators have homed in on Google, Facebook, and Twitter for the role they played in the confusion about what was and wasn’t real during an election that may have been swayed by a foreign government. Google, like its Silicon Valley brethren, has turned over evidence to federal investigators that Russian interlopers bought political ads on YouTube, AdWords, and other of its services last year; representatives from each company will testify before Congress on Nov. 1. “There’s clearly stuff which shouldn’t be happening which happened, so we should fix it,”

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    18 pessimistic opinions on the next 10 years of fake news (and 5 optimistic ones)

    A topic like fake news, or more broadly the question of trust and verification on the internet, is a complex one — a land of contrasts. Sometimes you just have to poll the room and get a feel for what people are thinking before drawing any conclusions.

    Clay Shirky, vice provost for educational technology at New York University:

    ‘News’ is not a stable category – it is a social bargain. There’s no technical solution for designing a system that prevents people from asserting that Obama is a Muslim but allows them to assert that Jesus loves you.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The “fake news epidemic” is simply the people waking up and realizing that corporate news institions have been manipulating public opinions for years.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Charlie Warzel / BuzzFeed:
    Sources: some employees feel Facebook is being used as a scapegoat for 2016 election outcome using flawed hindsight about factors mostly beyond FB’s control — In the summer of 2015, a Facebook engineer was combing through the company’s internal data when he noticed something unusual.

    How People Inside Facebook Are Reacting To The Company’s Election Crisis

    Many employees feel like they’re part of an unjust narrative that’s spiraled out of control.

    “Conservative Tribune, Western Journalism, and Breitbart were regularly in the top 10 of news and media websites,” the engineer told BuzzFeed News. “They often ranked higher than established brands like the New York Times and got far more traffic from Facebook than CNN. It was wild.”

    Troubled by the trend, the engineer posted a list of these sites and associated URLs to one of Facebook’s internal employee forums. The discussion was brief — and uneventful. “There was this general sense of, ‘Yeah, this is pretty crazy, but what do you want us to do about it?’” the engineer explained.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lockhart Steele Fired From Vox Media

    In what appears to be the first and probably not the last repercussion of last week’s Shitty Media Men list, and the larger floodgates of assault and harassment survivors speaking out against their attackers, Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s Editorial Director and former Curbed CEO and founder, has been fired, effective immediately.

    The newest, wokest media conglomerates on the block are no more immune to the same kinds of abuses of power and workplace sexual harassment that we’ve been reading and writing op-eds about for the past two weeks since the Harvey Weinstein bubble burst than any other old company made out of women and men behaving badly. What a world!

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Maureen Dowd / New York Times:
    Susan Fowler reflects on the impact of her essay that ignited harassment revelations, says she’s working with a talent agency on a movie about her experiences

    She’s 26, and Brought Down
    Uber’s C.E.O. What’s Next?

    In her first interview since the essay that started
    a wave of sexual-harassment revelations, Susan
    Fowler tells her life story and looks to the future.

    Susan Fowler was, she recalls, “over the moon” in January 2016. At 24, she had just snagged her dream job as a site reliability engineer at Uber, which had recruited her by telling her the ride-hailing company was a “super-women-friendly” place to work, boasting 25 percent female engineers. And she had her first date with the man who would become her husband

    “Did you read that interview with the C.E.O., Travis, where he talked about how Uber helps him get girls? He’s a misogynist. I could never use his product.”

    Ms. Fowler smiles ruefully at the memory, during her first interview since she became instantly famous.

    Like women in Hollywood I talked to after the Weinstein collapse, Ms. Fowler thought the new outspokenness in Silicon Valley on sexual harassment may have been spurred by the election of President Trump.

    Ms. Fowler took screen shots and reported the manager to human resources, thinking, “They’ll do the right thing.” But they didn’t, explaining that the manager was “a high performer” and it was his first offense, something Ms. Fowler later discovered to be untrue.

    Ms. Fowler tweeted a screen shot of that part of the interview, saying: “Oooh burn” and “She really, really doesn’t like me.”

    On the advice of a friend, Ms. Fowler got private security for the first few weeks after she published her incendiary essay.

    She thinks Silicon Valley needs to get rid of forced arbitration.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    When an AI Tries Writing Slashdot Headlines

    For Slashdot’s 20th anniversary, “What could be geekier than celebrating with the help of an open-source neural network?” Neural network hobbyist Janelle Shane has already used machine learning to generate names for paint colors, guinea pigs, heavy metal bands, and even craft beers, she explains on her blog. “Slashdot sent me a list of all the headlines they’ve ever run, over 162,000 in all, and asked me to train a neural network to try to generate more.”

    Slashdot headlines written by neural network

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Could Cryptocurrency Mining Kill Online Advertising?

    “Could it turn out users actually prefer to trade a little CPU time to website owners in favor of them not showing ads?” writes phonewebcam, a long-time Slashdot reader.

    Slashdot covered the downside [of in-browser cryptocurrency mining] recently, with even [Portuguese professional sportsballer] Cristiano Ronaldo’s official site falling victim, but that may not be the full story. This could be an ideal win-win situation, except for one huge downside — the current gang of online advertisers.

    Could Cryptocurrency kill online advertising?

    Wow. Now here’s a disruptive idea, to put it mildly.

    This week’s excellent Security Now podcast discussed the idea of hackers using code running in the visitors browser of “infected” websites to mine online currency. In other words, for the duration of your visit to the site, your CPU is used to perform some calculations which contribute to the site owner potentially getting paid in Bitcoins without you seeing any of this. The new term for this is “Cryptojacking”, because clearly, web surfers need another buzzword to worry about.

    “No way!” is the instant response – this just feels wrong. But as Steve Gibson says in the podcast – not so fast. First and foremost, it sounds like a security risk but isn’t.

    I’m looking at you, Pirate Bay and chums. So it doesn’t get off to a good start when it’s described as these sites “stealing” your CPU ticks without you knowing about it. However, that’s all they do. It’s invariably JavaScript doing this, and that’s the same JavaScript which does regular “good” work on your computer when you visit, such as graphics wizardry, form validation etc.

    Since code is code, the usual problem of being able to tell the stuff that’s wanted from the mining operation makes it difficult to detect, because it’s not attempting any security violations such as replicating itself to other sites, spoofing, key logging and so on.

    Wouldn’t the user notice a slowdown? Turns out this again isn’t the case. Today’s desktops and smartphones have oodles of horsepower, with most likely plenty to spare.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In a Skeptical Inquirer report, Ramzi Hakami looks at the disaster that is the industry of for-profit, predatory science journals.

    Predatory Journals: Write, Submit, and Publish the Next Day
    Special Report

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google will reportedly share some revenue with news publishers

    Google is reportedly gearing up to share revenue with news publishers, the Financial Times reports. The plan is to combine Google’s treasure trove of personal data with machine learning algorithms to help news publications grow and maintain its subscriber base.

    For each new subscriber Google brings to the table, the company will reportedly take up to a 30 percent finder’s fee. The agreements will reportedly be similar to the deals Google has with traditional advertisers through its AdSense business.

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Family’s legal battle over YouTube’s role in Paris terror murders is paused
    Judge gives victim’s relatives two weeks to come up with new claims or give up

    A lawsuit accusing YouTube of playing a key role in the November 2015 Paris terror attacks has been all but thrown out of court.

    Northern California District Judge Donna Ryu ruled [PDF] this week that the Mountain View ads broker could not be held liable for killings apparently inspired by terror bastards’ propaganda videos on YouTube.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IETF mulls adding geoblock info to ‘Bradbury’s code’
    Proposal to extend Error 451

    After a long campaign, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has decided that users deserve to know why pages were blocked and created HTML error 451. Now the body will consider a proposal to extend it to give users more information.

    “Error 451” entered the canon in December 2015, with the name honouring Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and a rationale that users deserved to know if legal constraints (such as censorship) were being applied to pages they wished to view.

    The original spec provided only minimal information: if used, it would return a status code stating a resource was unavailable for legal reasons, and the response should include a reason.

    His suggestions in this draft are that the protocol elements include:

    A header field that identifies the “blocking authority”;
    A response element that indicates to users if they’re geo-blocked from a particular site.

    The suggestions are the result of an implementation report that’s been looking at Error 451 since it was adopted as a standard in February 2016.

    That report, published in July 2017, noted that geoblocking was primarily associated with gambling sites.

    There’s another reason the IETF would consider encouraging the use of 451, and enhancing it: since it’s machine readable, it provides a potentially-useful research tool (for example, to answer “how much content is blocked for reasons pertaining to intellectual property rights ?”), and it can be returned by encrypted Web pages.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    When Russian Trolls Attack

    Anna Zhavnerovich knew she was taking a risk when she publicized the details of her assault online. But in doing so, she joined a growing movement of survivors fighting back against Russia’s Kremlin-influenced trolling machine.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Adi Robertson / The Verge:
    Reddit shuts down Nazi and white supremacist subreddits, after updating policy to ban content encouraging violence; subreddits banned had 25 to 7,000 users each

    Reddit bans Nazi boards in crackdown on ‘violent’ content

    Reddit has shut down several Nazi and white supremacist subreddits after a policy change banning material that “encourages, glorifies, incites, or calls for violence or physical harm against an individual or a group of people.” The news was posted earlier today in Reddit’s moderator news forum, and commenters noted that at least 10 subreddits have been banned since then, including r/NationalSocialism, r/Nazi, and r/DylannRoofInnocent. Reddit is also banning anything that glorifies or encourages abuse of animals, including bestiality-themed subreddits.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Columbia Journalism Review:
    Tow study: news audiences on social platforms seek more transparency amid misunderstanding of algorithms, blame platforms for “fake news”, worry about privacy

    New report: Local audiences consuming news on social platforms are hungry for transparency

    As more and more people get at least some of their news from social platforms, this study showcases perspectives on what the increasingly distributed environment looks like in day-to-day media lives. Drawing from thirteen focus groups conducted in four cities across the United States, we sample voices of residents who reflect on their news habits, the influence of algorithms, local news, brands, privacy concerns, and what all this means for journalistic business models.

    Tech platforms and news habits

    Even people who frequently access news via tech platforms do not think of those platforms as news sources in their own right. Instead, participants of all ages typically reported that their encounters with news on tech platforms were usually unintentional and/or a byproduct of visiting the platforms for other purposes, as opposed to actively going there to consume news.

    Convenience is key to audiences’ ongoing willingness to engage with news via platforms.


    While the term “algorithm” came up relatively infrequently among our focus group participants, associated themes were very prominent throughout conversation, indicating that awareness—and at times concern—about platform algorithms extends to everyday news audiences.

    Platforms, brand, and fake news

    Fake news was not an intended focus of this study, yet the subject was raised repeatedly in all of our discussion groups, highlighting its pervasiveness in everyday discourse. Use of the term was varied and inconsistent, covering “imposter content,” “fabricated content,” and, at times, news/outlets with which people did not agree.

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Offshore Legal Firm Hacked, Braces for Media Leaks

    Financial details of some of the world’s richest people are set to be published after a Bermuda-based offshore firm suffered a data breach, a British newspaper reported Wednesday.

    The legal firm, Appleby, said it was bracing for documents to be published after being approached by the media network behind the Panama Papers.

    The US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and affiliated media raised allegations against the company’s operations and its clients, following information being leaked.

    “Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients,” said the law firm, which has multiple offices in locations including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

    The expected publication of Appleby documents follows “a data security incident last year which involved some of our data being compromised,” the firm said, without giving further details.

    The publication of 11.5 million digital records from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed how many of the world’s wealthy used offshore companies to stash assets, leading to at least 150 inquiries or investigations in 79 countries as of March 2017.

    The Telegraph put the Appleby case on its front page Wednesday, saying “some of the world’s richest people were braced for their financial details to be exposed”.

    A “global consortium of left-leaning media organisations” is set to release the information “in the coming days,” added the conservative daily.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    When Government Fails, Social Media Is the New 911

    Social media has often sprung up in times of disaster, amplifying the voices of dissenters and the damned. It has a history of instigation, most famously during the Arab Spring and the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine. But in the past few months of epic catastrophes, it has served for another sort of recruitment. It has created a new set of first responders to step in where traditional aid has failed.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Panic of Panama Papers-style revelations follows Bermuda law firm hack
    Cue incredibly wealthy people calling their PRs

    A major offshore law firm admitted it had been hacked on Tuesday, prompting fears of a Panama Papers-style exposé into the tax affairs of the super rich.

    Bermuda-based Appleby only admitted it had suffered the breach – which actually happened last year – after a group of journos from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who had seen the leaked information, began asking awkward questions.

    In a statement, Appleby denied allegations of any tax evasions or other wrongdoing by itself or its clients while admitting that it was “not infallible”. The law firm went on to state that it had shored up its security since the hack.

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Erica Anderson / The Keyword:
    Google announces partnership with International Fact-Checking Network to focus on increasing number of fact checkers, expand service globally, more

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How I cured my tech fatigue by ditching feeds

    Facebook is now the worst internet forum you can find. Twitter is filled with horrible, abusive people. Instagram has become a tiny Facebook now that it has discouraged all the weird, funny accounts from posting with its broken algorithm. LinkedIn’s feed is pure spam.

    And here’s what I realized after forgetting about all those “social” networks. First, they’re tricking you and pushing the right buttons to make you check your feed just one more time. They all use thirsty notifications, promote contrarian posts that get a lot of engagement and play with your emotions.

    Posting has been gamified and you want to check one more time if you got more likes on your last Instagram photo. Everything is now a story so that you pay more attention to your phone and you get bored less quickly — moving pictures with sound tend to attract your eyes. And many people now pay more attention to the Kardashian family than their neighbors.

  46. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Reddit just banned Nazis and white supremacists from the site

  47. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Reddit just banned Nazis and white supremacists from the site

    online community Reddit is removing Nazis, white supremacists and hate groups from its website, according to a new policy.

    Buzzfeed reported Wednesday that the website enacted a change in its policy that bans certain types of violent content.

  48. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Matt Ranen / NewCo Shift:
    Augmented Reality poses difficult legal and ethical questions about virtual graffiti, private and public property rights, and data verification

    We’ve Not Thought Through the Legal and Ethical Disruption of Augmented Reality
    Let’s not repeat the mistakes we made with social media

    With recent product and SDK announcements by Apple and Facebook, we have officially entered the 2017 edition of the Augmented Reality hype cycle. Event news sites like the New York Times and Quartz have gotten into the game with their own apps.

    As a futurist and scenario planner, helping organizations understand the long-term social, economic, and political impacts that accompany disruptive technology, I feel the timing is right for all types of stakeholders in this technology — policy makers, technology producers, consumers and even just the average citizen who might be in the way of the emerging applications — to understand and get ahead of the types of ethical, legal and regulatory issues that will accompany AR applications.

    What kind of property rights exist in mixed reality?

    A new batch of apps that allow users to create hidden graffiti using AR raises an important question about who is legally allowed to “tag” a place. Physical graffiti itself is illegal without the permission of a property owner, but what about virtual graffiti? If not immediately viewable by the public, how big a crime is it? If it is just for a group of friends, or patrons, or other groups, is it an intrusion on the property? At some point, the answer is probably yes. When a space becomes “public” is in fact defined by law (thought not yet in MR). However, Yelp reviews of a particular “place” have been perfectly acceptable up to now, suggesting some general societal tolerance for open commenting on private places.

    In practice, the point at which a line of illegality, or just impropriety, is crossed will always be a fuzzy one, given all the variations of visibility that could exist. This line will be drawn, in part, from a pure ethical standpoint: for instance, one might argue that a work shared with just a handful of friends is harmless, but one that is generally available and prompted for when people walk by is more of a public statement. But it will also be dictated by more practical considerations, such as how someone (the owner, law enforcement, etc.) would even know that there was a tag at all. And of course, it will likely matter as to what type of statement is being made and the degree to which the owner might be impacted by it.

    This will likely open up a wide range of debates about what is public versus private information more generally.

    AR provides a new, unlimited descriptive space for every location. Similar to online-only spaces like search engines and social media platforms, the ethical and legal boundaries of AR have not been fully defined. We are just now seeing online giants like Facebook start to rethink what “open” means on their platform. We will need to do something very similar for AR, where the particular, emotional immediacy and connection to physical concepts don’t exist in the same way in mobile or online content.

  49. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New York Times:
    Human rights groups say false information spread on Facebook, which is dominant in Myanmar, is stoking violence against the Rohingya ethnic group

    A War of Words Puts Facebook at the Center of Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis

    Myanmar’s government has barred Ashin Wirathu, an ultranationalist Buddhist monk, from public preaching for the past year, saying his speeches helped fuel the violence against the country’s Rohingya ethnic group that the United Nations calls ethnic cleansing.

    So he has turned to an even more powerful and ubiquitous platform to get his message out — Facebook.

    Every day he posts updates, often containing false information, that spread a narrative of the Rohingya as aggressive outsiders. And posts like these have put Facebook at the center of a fierce information war that is contributing to the crisis involving the minority group. International human rights groups say Facebook should be doing more to prevent the hateful speech, focusing as much on global human rights as on its business.

  50. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Julie Bykowicz / Wall Street Journal:
    Amid talk of potential federal regulation, Facebook invests more in lobbying and tests messaging strategies regarding Russian interference with focus groups — Amid Russia probes and online ad scrutiny, social-media giant boosts lobbying spending and work on messaging

    Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Sway Lawmakers

    Amid Russia probes and online ad scrutiny, social-media giant boosts lobbying spending and work on messaging


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