Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

Tagged with , , ,

Birdbrained Bird Boxers

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Back in the early-to-mid aughts, before we called everything “social media” (back when I had to walk five miles through the snow to get to the office), we often referred to something that came to be known as the “wisdom of the crowd.”

The New Yorker writer James Surowiecki wrote a book on the phenomenon, “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations.”

The central thesis of the book was the idea that the aggregation of information in groups resulted in decisions are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. 

As an example, in his opening anecdote for the book, he relayed the surprise that a crowd had when their individual guesses of an ox’s weight were accurate when they were all averaged together.

It was a really cool idea, and it seemed to stick around for awhile.

And then, as if out of nowhere, the wisdom of the crowd seems to have gone the way of the do do bird.

Or, should I say, the way of the “Bird Box.”

Some background: Bird Box is a movie (spoiler alert!) recently released by Netflix starring Sandra Bullock in which the basic premise is that everybody must run around blindfolded lest they see the post-apocalyptic zombies running around which, if seen by the human eye, will turn them into zombies as well.

As Netflix movies go, it was pretty bad, but like an inverse of Surowiecki’s theorem, everybody had to see it because it got so much exposure via social media.  

Call it the “constipation” of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the viral meme of seeing the movie didn’t stop there.

No, lacking the wisdom of crowds from even 13 or 14 years ago, instead the “Bird Box Challenge” was born.

The challenge is simple: People inspired by the film are recreating the basic premise of the movie by going about their daily lives blindfolded.

It’s as silly as that, or even as silly as the Tide Pod challenge (another key piece of evidence of the constipation of the crowd) from last year, where people filmed themselves on YouTube eating Tide Pod laundry detergent pellets. Hey, whatever spins your cycle!

Only the Bird box Challenge has taken the constipation of the crowd to new heights, because, well, you’re blindfolded, which, you know, isn’t exactly conducive to things like driving a car or floating through rapids on a river.

It got so bad that Netflix had to issue a Tweet telling us how dangerous the Bird Box Challenge could be: “Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE.”

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, we encouraged this kind of outlier behavior…It helps thin out the herd.

But we didn’t have a bunch of bird brains doing the Bird Box Challenge. 

We just called such phenomena “Darwin Awards.”

Go ahead, Google it.  

Just make sure you step away from the ledge.

Or not.

Written by turbotodd

January 17, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in 2018, social media

Tagged with , ,

Dezinformatsiya

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If you’ve had any interest in following all those alleged goings on by Russia in the 2016 elections, today was a good day. 

The Washington Post wrote that a new report that was prepared for the U.S. Senate “provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign” and “used every major social media platform to deliver words, images, and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump.”

It was the product of a bipartisan effort from the Senate Intelligence Committee, and you can download the full report here.

Me, I’m neither going to wade into or attempt to drown that particular swamp, but I will say one of the revelations was what a significant role Instagram seemed to play in the Russia Internet Research Agency’s efforts (as opposed to the prior focus on Twitter and Facebook).

I guess a picture’s worth a thousand kompromat!

Meanwhile, more political heat on the search and social media front as The Intercept reports that Google was forced to shut down a data analysis system that it had been using to develop a censored search engine for China “after members of the company’s privacy team raised internal complaints that it had been kept secret from them.”

The internal rift over the system has had massive ramifications, effectively ending work on the censored search engine, known as Dragonfly, according to two sources familiar with the plans. The incident represents a major blow to top Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, who have over the last two years made the China project one of their main priorities.

You gotta go deep to get to the bottom of this one, but it does appear that the Grinch may have stolen Google’s Chinese search gift this holiday season. I’ll leave it up.

Queue up Dr. Seuss:

And the more the Grinch thought of this Who Christmas Sing,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!”
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! But HOW?”

Written by turbotodd

December 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

A Social Bill on Capitol Hill?

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Happy hump day.

Well, I didn’t have the opportunity to watch all of the Senate hearings where our illustrious senators grilled Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

For Google, there was an empty chair, as Larry Page opted not to show or send a representative.

From what I’ve gathered thus far, the two executives told lawmakers they feel they are better prepared to combat foreign interference on their platforms.

The Washington Post reports that Sandberg said "We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act. That’s on us. This interference was completely unacceptable. It violated the values of our company and of the country we love. We are more determined than our opponents and we will keep fighting."

Dorsey, on the other hand, explained that "We found ourselves unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems we’ve acknowledged. Abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda through bots and human coordination, disinformation campaigns and divisive filter bubbles — that’s not a healthy public square."

One highlight of the hearing occurred when a female protester stood up at the back of the hearing room towards the end of the session.

To overshadow (err, physically shadow ban?) the protester, Rep. Billy Long of Missouri launched into full auctioneer filibuster mode until such time as said protester could be removed fro the hearing room.

God, how I love the U.S. Congress.

We can probably start the countdown on how long it takes for a social media or overall Internets regulation bill to roll down Capitol Hill.

Schoolhouse Rock, everybody….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyeJ55o3El0

Written by turbotodd

September 5, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Facebook to Limit 3rd Party Data

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Facebook is going to start to limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads on the social network, according to a report from Recode.

Specifically, Facebook has indicated it would stop using data from third-party data aggregators, including companies like Acxiom and Experian, both of which have extensive data stores of offline data such as purchasing activity which Facebook could use to supplement its own data set.

Recode recounts that Facebook previously let advertisers target people using data from a number of sources (beyond Experian and Acxiom), including:

  • Data from Facebook, which the company collects from user activity and profiles.
  • Data from the advertiser itself, like customer emails they’ve collected on their own.

Official confirmation of the move came from Graham Mudd, a product marketing manager at Facebook:

We want to let advertisers know that we will be shutting down Partner Categories,” Mudd said in the statement. “This product enables third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on Facebook. While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook.

Recode notes, however, that even had the move been made earlier, this decision would not have impacted the outcome of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which that firm collected the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

In related news, Facebook has also introduced new, more centralized privacy controls that are “easier to find and use”:

We’ve redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. Instead of having settings spread across nearly 20 different screens, they’re now accessible from a single place. We’ve also cleaned up outdated settings so it’s clear what information can and can’t be shared with apps.

The new “Privacy Shortcuts” menu is just that, a menu where you can “control your data in just a few taps, with clearer expectations of how our controls work.”

As for all the various and sundry your data has been used by the company in the past, I guess we’ll just have to wait for Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Capitol Hill.

Be sure to share with all your friends. ; )

Written by turbotodd

March 29, 2018 at 9:57 am

Posted in 2018, facebook, privacy, social media

Tagged with , ,

Big Tech Regulation

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Axios posted some survey results a few hours ago that suggests a majority of Americans are now concerned that the government won’t do enough to regulate How us technology companies operate.

According to the story, across-the-board concern about government in action is up significantly – 15 percentage points – in the past three months. And Axios suggests that it shows how worried Americans are about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but also a growing anxiety about the potentially addictive nature of some of the tech companies’ products, and the relentless spread of fake news on their platforms.

More highlights:

  • More than 8 out of 10 people, including big majorities across party lines, blame the technology companies for not doing more to safeguard their platforms against election interference.

  • When asked whether social media does more to help promote democracy and free speech or does more to hurt democracy and free speech, most Americans (55%) now say social media does more to hurt democracy and free speech.

Axios suggests that major tech firms response thus far has been to “tout the fact that consumers love their free, innovative products that have become staples of every day life.” But also that these new numbers suggest more people are trying to square their affinity for those services with the downsides that have reared their heads over the past year.

Still, more than 7 out of 10 Americans still believe that technology has had a positive effect on society.

We’ll just have to wait and see if it stays that way.

Written by turbotodd

February 28, 2018 at 9:38 am

Special Social Media Counsel

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Friday afternoon is usually the place news goes to die, but apparently not today.

First, indictments are coming out of the Special Counsel’s office (Robert Mueller) in the Russian election interference investigation. 

As reported in The New York Times, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations were charged with illegally using social media platforms “to sow political discord, including actions that supported the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and disparaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton.”

More choice details:

The indictment charges that the foreigners falsely posed as American citizens, stole identities and otherwise engaged in fraud and deceit in an effort to influence the U.S. political process, including the 2016 presidential race….

….The Internet Research Agency, operating out of St. Petersburg, was described in the indictment as a hub for a sophisticated operation designed to reach millions of Americans to disrupt the political process in the United States. Its annual budget was millions of dollars; its stated goal was to “spread distrust toward the candidates and the political system in general.”

The U.S president, Donald J. Trump, has already responded via Twitter:

NewImage

On a tangentially related front, the White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report Friday that indicated malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. According to a report from Reuters:

The report quoted the U.S. intelligence community as saying the main foreign culprits responsible for much cyber activity against U.S. targets are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

But the report also suggested malicious cyber activity is not limited to foreign actors, and that corporate competitors, activists seeking to advance a political agenda, and organized crime are also responsible.

Written by turbotodd

February 16, 2018 at 2:36 pm

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