Digital Digest October 16th 2017

1. Big News

Regulation Russian Roulette

Increasingly, we’re getting our news from social media. (67% of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” 45% percent on Facebook). But getting your news over the feeds can be problematic:

  • FB, Twitter and others scrape a link’s source to create neat, tidy and standardized knowledge cards that abstract away the shoddy page construction and low tier ads that would otherwise indicate a dubious news source.
  • the self-serve, no questions asked advertising model allows anyone, including state actors, to boost info without the “this ad has been brought to you by” attribution found with other media.
  • Whether on purpose or as an unintended consequence of machine learning, algorithms are optimized for outrage.
  • Finally, FB was designed as the ultimate targeting engine. Much like Santa, it knows when you are sleeping, it knows when you’re awake, it knows when you feel bad or good….

Evidence is mounting that Russian state actors leveraged all of these features to create a disinformation campaign around the 2016 election. Phony news sites were created, stories were spread with the help of bot & troll farms and all of it was amplified by at least 3,000 FB targeted ads.

Why it matters

  • Social media companies have long had the position that “We are neutral. We are a platform. We can’t police anything. No regulations apply to us.”
  • But that attitude might not hold much longer. Facebook is scheduled to be questioned on the Russian-bought ads by members of Congress on Nov. 1.
  • Regulation for political ads may easily come with new requirements for regular ads.

Daniel’s .000007 BTC

  • I agree with Jay McGregor: “There’s a pattern to a Facebook scandal. Public uproar, Facebook’s denial, political uproar, Facebook’s silence, continued not-going-away uproar, Facebook’s mea culpa coupled with minimal changes. Rinse and repeat.”
  • My bet is that, despite their ample lobbyist and campaign contributions, the political winds are changing direction (see DD 092417).

2. I wish I thought of that

If you’ve been to Washington Square Park lately, you’ll have noticed one of new public art works by Ai Weiwei. The series called Good Fences Make Good Neighborstransforms the security fence into a powerful social and artistic symbol with interventions across the city” Love it or hate it, I think we can all agree they’re better than another Chihuly.

3. Tool of the Week

Google announced their new product lineup at the beginning of the month and included was the Home Mini, a $49 smart home speaker similar to Amazon’s Echo Dot. It was off to a rocky start PR wise as early versions may have been a bit nosey…but assuming the unintended recording has been ironed out, it seems to be the best entry level smart speaker out there.

4. Startup Radar

AppGyver is like Squarespace for apps! They just raised a 9MM Series A last week, and if that inspires a flood of new apps to the millions that currently exist, our job as marketers remains secure.

5. From the Archives

Want to know what AirBnB, Snapchat or Linkedin looked like before they became household names? This archive of pitch decks let’s you travel in time and look behind the curtain. Not only is it amazing to see how the businesses have evolved, these decks are a wealth of tips & tricks to sell as of yet unproven ideas (hey, that’s what we do!)

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