The one where Facebook got its algorithm to do the news

Facebook fired its editorial team and look what happened to Trending. Sewing seeds in Sierra Leone to build schools. Streaks- a habit-forming app that apparently works.

Trending now — Facebook messes up Trending

Facebook has (sadly) become the world’s largest distributor of news. That top right box dictates what global, political and celebrity events you feed your mind with. Its Trending team had an important job- to filter, curate and write clever copy around a buzzing news item. Little did the team know, there was an algorithm trying to learn what they were up to and how they made decisions. So much so, that Facebook fired its human editorial team late last week.

Hey Algorithm, guess what gullible has three l’s in it

In the space of one weekend, the Trending section managed to spew out a plethora of incorrect, fake and offensive news stories. From the McDonalds one to the one where they pretended a Fox news reporter was fired for being a Clinton supporter (lol!). Mr Z himself was (also) busy attending weddings and giving drones to the Pope so didn’t seem too fussed. The irony of it all — Facebook perpetuated the clickbait, viral headline…

Even if tech companies don’t position themselves as media ones- an editor is kind of key

Tech titans consistently argue they are tech companies first, providing tools not producing content- a platform, not a publisher. Facebook has been vomming all kinds of features up to lure storytellers in. These range from live videos, favoured in its News Feed algorithm to 360 degree camera shots (that only Mark and Sheryl seem to use) for VR headsets. Over the Olympics, Google conjured up the results, schedule and a snackable video widget on its search page, alongside its playful doodles. Don’t even get me started on Snapchat and Instagram. Whilst these platforms purport to democratise free speech (in line with the algorithm)- Twitter recently has had to wake up to its editorial responsibilities to curb trolls and control harassment. No doubt, others will soon be following suit.

Stalk corner (Companies I like).

As facets of capitalism continue to crumble on itself, companies that are mindful to provide value ‘fairly’ to all parts of the value chain are coming to the fore.

This week, I interviewed Rocco Falconer from Planting Promise which farms profits back into schools. After attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Rocco packed off to Sierra Leone one summer (as you do) and fashioned a make-shift school together as “just being moved was a completely inadequate response”. In search of an investable proposition for the sustainability of the school, he looked to the abundance of agriculture. Fast forward 5 years, with 3 schools up set up, he runs a company which farms profits back into schools- it has educated over 1,500 kids and created 500 jobs, oh and they survived Ebola. He’s now in Ghana, launching a new coconut water drink Husk to bring those refreshing, electrolyte-filled wonders to a shelves in the US, UK and South Africa. LISTEN TO HIS STORY HERE!

Digi-stationary for the pencil case

That time of year where summer is closing but the fresh autumn air brings grand plans and a promise for better habits. Streaks is a simple app that acts as a to-do list to help you form good daily habits. You decide which six tasks to turn into daily habits (e.g. flossing, more apples, learning that language, sweat burn, meditate etc). You can’t break the streak, or it resets to zero! Have a go!

Shower thoughts (contributed via Reddit)

  • Only half of escalators escalate
  • If libraries were thought up today, they would be shut down by book industry lobbyists
  • I’m 100% convinced that every time a sock goes missing, it comes back as an extra tupperware lid.

Take one and pass it along

As always, spread the lurv and share the sign up link with that person you want to talk to but think asking to grab a cold-pressed overpriced juice is aggressive http://eepurl.com/bQheMj. The back catalogue of these are all up on my site now too!

Keep the feedback coming, hit reply and have a smashing week!

Over and out — SS