We all know people who seem to be able to come out on top no matter what terrible life choices they make. In the social media world, that someone is Facebook – until now, at least.
Earlier this week Mark Zuckerberg and his team closed 32 pages and accounts across Facebook and Instagram for ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’.
It seems these pages were trying to influence the upcoming US midterm elections. Although Facebook says it doesn’t know who’s behind the pages, theories abound – from anti-Trump liberals to the Russians.
What is known is that the creators went to greater lengths to hide their identities than the Russia-based campaign to disrupt the 2016 presidential vote. Facebook said that trying to erase election interference was an ‘arms race’.
“We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” said the company’s blog.
“But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week.”
It also revealed that projected user and revenue growth had taken a hit across the platform, which translated into a $124 billion decline in market capitalisation.
According to Bloomberg, it’s the largest ever loss of value in one day for a US-traded company.
It’s also Facebook’s first full quarter since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal and, although the whole affair didn’t seem to affect the social media giant at first, it looks like the tide may be turning with users leaving the site.
There is nothing fake about the crisis in our democracy
Although we’re probably consuming more fake news than hot dinners, the one thing you should take seriously is that the whole business is a very serious threat to democracy.
A new report has called for tougher social network regulation as MPs warned how serious the threat actually is.
Conservative MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, said the volume of disinformation online is beginning to crowd out real news.
“We are facing nothing less than a crisis in our democracy – based on the systematic manipulation of data to support the relentless targeting of citizens, without their consent, by campaigns of disinformation and messages of hate,” he said.
The report reckons tech firms like Facebook and Twitter need to be held responsible and liable for “harmful and illegal” content on their platforms.
The committee has also called for a levy to be imposed on tech companies in the UK, which will be used to pay for digital literacy programmes in schools and help finance the expanded work of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Banished to the shadows of Twitter
Last week Vice News wrote an article about Twitter apparently ‘shadowbanning’ prominent Republicans. Trump then got all riled up about it in a speech and since then the term has come out of the shadows and into our headlines.
For anyone thinking it sounds like it belongs more in a fantasy novel than on our political radar, Twitter wrote a response which defined the term as ‘deliberately making a user’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster’.
So, you can be tweeting away happy as a clam but no one is actually seeing your posts and you have no idea.
Twitter has said emphatically that it doesn’t do this, and ‘certainly not’ based on political viewpoints or ideology.
However, it has confirmed that it does rank tweets and search results because ‘Twitter is most useful when it’s immediately relevant’.
To do this, it looks at things like the popularity of a post, and ‘bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or detract from healthy conversation’.
They decide who a ‘bad faith actor’ is by how authentic an account seems, how other people interact with it – like how many people have blocked it – and what the account does while active.
So, if you’re tweeting a lot and no one seems to be engaging with you, you might want to consider if you fall into any of those categories before crying ‘Shadowban’.
A Stark contrast to traditional careers advice
Actress Maisie Williams has taken time off from murdering as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones to launch a new social media app.
The app, Daisie, is a way for creators to find alternative routes into ‘the biz’.
“Previous to Daisie, success in the creative industries was wholly dependent on luck and ‘ins’ to the industry,” said Williams.
“Daisie introduces a new way into the creative world; through connections made organically and the natural development of your skills, propelling individuals to the next level. We’re so excited to facilitate the future of creative collaboration.”
Bright young hopefuls can get exposure and mentoring through the app’s ‘Question Time’ feature, which will be kicked off by Williams herself.
The feature sees top talent do a live Q&A on their area of expertise, and show a film reviewing user projects and talking about how they broke into the sector.