YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki announced at SXSW that YouTube’s infamous conspiracy theory videos will now be paired with text from Wikipedia. “We will show a companion unit of information from Wikipedia showing that here is information about the event,” she said. YouTube is “using a list of well-known internet conspiracies from Wikipedia” to cull from.
Apparently Susan didn’t feel the need to inform Wikipedia before making this announcement:
Ok. So it hasn’t “gone” yet, but let’s see if it goes the way of Meerkat, Ello and Peach, but for now we at Hot Sauce can say, “oh yeah, I know about that”.
The appeal of the new app is its sleek design and it’s chronological feed. It’s still too early to tell what the path might be for Vero, but it might be interesting for our food service clients, as their new Places feature is a highlight.
Vero has been having trouble keeping up with customer demand:
We apologize for the late update. We are scaling our servers to meet the increasing demand. We appreciate your continued patience while we work to restore service.
After reading a few articles & learning the shady past of the CEO of Vero I have just officially 'requested' to delete my Vero account. That's right u must 'request' to have your account deleted… let's see how long this takes 😒 yay for jumping on band wagons without research
Time to re-litigate our favorite Hot Sauce topic! Are social media platforms media platforms or not? Do they have a journalistic responsibility to the public?
Last week YouTube’s quickly algorithm spread a rumor that Parkland HS shooting survivor David Hogg was an actor hired by democrats. It had 200K views shortly after it’s posting, but has since been taken down.
Mashable, the source for this post had a very apt understanding of the problem at hand:
YouTube’s job, as it sees it, is to get as many eyeballs on as many videos as possible. It’s as if a media tycoon founded a newspaper, invited every conspiracy theorist to contribute, and blithely waved away the notion that there should be any ethical responsibility to put forth the verifiable truth — because selling ads was all that mattered.
In a recent Guardian study this recent Guardian study out of 643 of partisan videos recommended to people watching politics content in 2016, 551 were conspiracy-based content that favored Trump while 92 favored Clinton. This study also notes that “More than 80% of the YouTube-recommended videos about the pope detected by his program described the Catholic leader as “evil”, “satanic”, or “the anti-Christ”.”
The Guardian tells the story of french programmer Guillaume Chaslot founder of https://algotransparency.org/ who was looking to make changes internally at YouTube in 2013 before he was fired (reportedly for performance reasons, but I’ll leave that up to you.) He believes that the YouTube Algorithm was biased towards Trump because it is biased towards divisiveness and conspiracy (things that shock and awe audiences can get more clicks). You can read his full blog post on the subject here.
Why Its Hot?
Let’s continue the conversation about how AI and algorithms shape the way we live, is there a way we can make them more human instead of human pandering.
Mashable reports “Twitter is finally following Facebook’s lead and coming clean about how Russian trolls abused their platform in spreading misinformation ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But even in transparency, Twitter is still clouding the issue by literally deleting the evidence.”
We can give Twitter credit for a certain amount of forthrightness. They recently published a blog post recounting their platforms involvement in Russia’s tampering with the 2016 elections.
“We have now sent notices to Twitter users with an active email address who our records indicate are based in the US and fall into at least one of the following categories:
People who directly engaged during the election period with the 3,814 IRA-linked accounts we identified, either by Retweeting, quoting, replying to, mentioning, or liking those accounts or content created by those accounts;People who were actively following one of the identified IRA-linked accounts at the time those accounts were suspended”
While Facebook is putting together an action plan to properly label “fake news” and use user feedback to properly identify propaganda, Twitter has taken the same measures that they would any unwanted account… suspension and deletion.
Why it’s hot?
By destroying the evidence instead of properly marking it, as Facebook has done, Twitter removes both the cultural context and the cultural learning from the conversation.
I know we’ve spent time talking about bot accounts before but I’m still constantly fascinated that what humans do with AI can have an outsized role in global behavior.
Sometimes the best marketing campaign is no marketing campaign at all.
Netflix dropped their newest release “The Cloverfield Paradox” immediately after the Superbowl, with no warning. No campaign, no advanced trailers, just a blurry easter egg of a website and a Super Bowl ad.
Now instead of waiting (but really why can’t I already watch Black Panther), Netflix is giving its audience immediate gratification.
This movie, however, was previously considered unsellable, and Netflix had taken it off of Paramount’s hands, as they didn’t see it as a viable property. By “pulling a Beyonce” Netflix let the movie bloggers do the marketing for them.
Why It’s Hot?
Turns out, Paramount was right about the movie (it’s currently 18% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) but was wrong about the potential.
And that’s now Netflix sells a crappy movie as viral gold.
We all remember our Trapper Keepers from the 1990s. Well now, you can get those same warm fuzzies + a shot of dada millennial feels from Lisa Frank’s social media pages.
The rainbow brand has taken their signature, busy, colorful style and added, busy colorful messaging… typically around the things they know you love. The up-coming weekend, sweet treats, and sitting on the couch and watching Netflix.
Lisa Frank is hoping to hone your 90s wistful nostalgia and adding a bit of what you aimlessly “like” on Instagram.
The company Zero Latency helped a real life couple make their proposal dreams come true. They worked with Melbourne carpenter Alex Lackovic to proposed to his beloved, social worker Kelly Lynn Norman, by bringing her to her favorite tree in her grandmother’s front yard.
Why its hot?
There is an emotional component to being able to be at “any place” at “any time”. By adding smell and sound, can we use this technology to re-create other important memories, or help Alzheimers patients?
Berlin’s metro, BVD, has partnered with shoemaker, Addidas to give customers free year long transit. The shoes, that retail for $215, have a yearly metro card built into the tongue. There are only 500 pairs available.
Why it’s hot:
Though likely low tech, this innovation gives us a glimpse into the ways we can make our lives easier through wearable technology.
As of 1/1 Germany’s new anti-hate-speech law has come into effect. The new law promises fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million, £44 million) for non compliance.
The law requires social networks to remove hate speech in under 24 hours from when it’s flagged by a user. Networks are given one week to deal with less clear cases.
Hate speech has seen a recent up tick online. YouTube stars accused of anti-Semitism; Trumps tweets against immigrants and Muslims.
Why it’s hot?
The real question is whether this has a positive effect on the rest of the internet. With geolocation, it’s possible to keep the hate speech ban specific to Germany and German citizens. Depending on how tight the laws were written….the rest of us just might be in luck….
Also, fun fact. There’s a word in german for this kind of speech Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”
We’re all aware of the Doug Jones recent win against Roy Moore in this week’s Alabama senate race. But how soon you knew of this victory depended on where you got your information.
Those who turned into CNN and cable news sorely lagged behind those following the race on Twitter, the NY Times ticker and Times statistician and journalist Nate Cohen.
None of this is new, but statisticians have been modeling against turnout and percentage vote count goals per district and this technology has been getting better and better. By 9:30 on the eve of the election most pundits were still noting that Moore was up 8% in the raw votes coming in. But the Times ticker and online voices were noting how low the turnout was in these red districts and how Jones districts were late in coming in.
Why it’s hot:
There’s always a love for the horse race, but sometimes data is what trumps.
Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel, announced an app redesign on Wednesday, one that focuses more on our interpersonal relationships. It looks to separate those one to one moment’s from our always on connection to the media cycle.
The combination of social and media has yielded incredible business results, but has ultimately undermined our relationships with our friends and our relationships with the media. We believe that the best path forward is disentangling the two by providing a personalized content feed based on what you want to watch, not what your friends post.
Evan is looking at a longer view of social media success instead of immediate gains. I think this separation is notable and valuable.
Why its hot?
We live in a world where our social lives are wrapped up among news and clickbait. We’ve long seen the trend of younger users moving to 1:1 messaging apps and dark social. It’s the natural response to the “public” requirement of social media. This change begs the thought: “Well… of course these things have been too unnaturally intertwined. Why haven’t I thought of that!”
We live in a world dominated by social media, but we have a “build it first,” ethics later approach to technology. We have the tools at our fingertips to organize in moments but ideas can descend faster than we can figure out who’s sending messaging. Can your brains be hacked? The years after the discovery of the printing press were dark times for humanity. We should be careful when the power is in few hands and keep transparency at the forefront of not only social advertising but organic social as well. Twitter and Facebook have thrown up their hands, refusing to be “the arbiters” but if no one is left with this job, the American people suffer.
Two Senators Amy Klobucha and Mark Warner, of Minnesota and Virginia, respectively, have proposed bi-partisan legislation to align online ad buying regulations with those for other forms of paid media in response to Russian propaganda attacks ahead of the 2016 election.
In related news, Twitter has offered to put in place a similar policy as this legislation is being proposed in Congress. This new policy adds a layer of transparency, showing viewers who bought the ad and why they were targeted.
Why it’s hot:
While silicon valley noticing and fixing it’s own issues is important for long term change, legislation is important to level the playing field to make sure all big digital media companies comply, not just those who think the issues of transparency are a big enough problem to self regulate.
This week Wired was leaked the exclusive scoop that the internal Trust and Safety Council at Twitter was looking to make changes after the popular #womenboycotttwitter movement last week. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey seems to confirm this in a series of tweets.
2/ We prioritized this in 2016. We updated our policies and increased the size of our teams. It wasn’t enough.
The list leaked to Wired of posts no longer allowed by Twitter were:
Unwanted sexual advances
Hate symbols and imagery
Tweets that glorify violence
Why it’s hot:
Twitter has a long history of avoiding harassment on its platform. As public outcry starts to grow about the #metoo and #womenboycotttwitter hashtags, Twitter is starting to feel the pressure. Ideally doing the right thing years ago would have been enough to trigger change, instead of a reactive response to public outcry.
Snapchat is introducing Context Cards, a way for users to see reviews and maps of where their friends are checking in. From there you can make reservations or call the retail locations.
Why It’s Hot?
Snapchat kind of exists in a world of its own and anytime it integrates with other apps and plays nice, it’s a boon for marketers. This integration is pretty seamless and seems like a great way to bring in the larger internet snugly into the new “maps” piece of the Snapchat world. I hope Snapchat always sticks to their guns, and keeps their interface contained, as they continue to incorporate into the larger picture.
This is a big one! In the same week that we learn that Russian based operatives bought at 100K worth of targeted ads in the 2016 election, we have new news. We have knocked on Mark Zuckerburg in previous Hot Sauce posts of taking credit for solving the problem he helped create. Facebook is now looking to keep “fake news” from becoming “sponsored fake news” by requiring all ads be truthful, or face expulsion.
Why It’s Hot?
This is hot because its not just a policy per ad but a policy that matches the content breach to the advertiser. Facebook is one upping the policy of not letting pages share links that 3rd party fact checkers have labeled false. Adweek notes that this policy is a “move meant to help prevent Pages from making money off distributing misinformation.” Here at Hot Sauce, we can get down with that!
With data so readily available now-a-days, we’re all data scientists. One Twitter super-sleuth (an anonymous one at that, ironically enough) is using numbers to find paid Russian human trolls feeding a sea of bots!
A pattern you may have noticed: many bot and troll accounts have usernames that end in 8 random digits. pic.twitter.com/54Gc8Jq35L
This account represents a lot of the Kremlin’s interests and is particularly influential on Twitter, pushing out #s that can trend.
Why it’s hot?
I personally think Twitter should be taking a sharper stance on this issue, despite how it might affect its monthly active users, and subsequently… stock price.
These kinds of data experiments allow us to see the universe of the web, shown visually. Yes, these forces can be used by foreign governments, but those same tools can be leveraged by your average joe!
P.S. if you want more ‘fun’ reading, check out this thread as well about user @notmypresident, a “left-leaning” (actually the Kremlin,) human run troll account!
Facebook has actively started removing shares of this article unless they condemn the piece in their post copy. This is a new move by the platform and an interesting one.
Why Its Hot:
Yes, Facebook is fighting hatred. But, Facebook has allowed partisanship to spread in our country and allowed falsehoods to remain that keep people from knowing what is true and false. This is a bit of a bandaid on a bullet hole, but props to Facebook for helping to fix what it helped to break.
It’s interesting how we will all start to take on false equivalency when not everything deserves to be shared.
tfw you built a machine that broke politics but it made you rich so you don't want to admit it https://t.co/kPUmEmQZzE
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote a heartfelt letter detailing her dismay at the infamous Google Memo written by a now-fired Googler who cited bialogical reasons for why there are fewer women and minorities in STEM and tech.
Yesterday, after reading the news, my daughter asked me a question. “Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?”
She notes that:
I thought about the women throughout the tech field who are already dealing with the implicit biases that haunt our industry (which I’ve written about before), now confronting them explicitly.
Why Its Hot:
We’ve spoken about Uber’s “women problem” and its apparent across other fields. I think its just important to talk about diversity and acknowledge the problems that typically aren’t on the surface.
Project Hamilton68 knows what Russia is thinking…by topic trend. The group, taking their name from Alexander Hamilton, known for having written 68 Federalist papers, around the theme of foreign interference, is taking to Twitter to sus out themes among the 600 Russian bots that they have identified.
The Hamilton 68 dashboard, a project with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, seeks to expose the effects of online influence networks and inform the public of themes and content being promoted to Americans by foreign powers.
The dashboard illustrates the themes that Vladimir Putin is promoting to Americans in pursuit of his foreign policy objectives–including the break up of the European Union, the dissolution of NATO and the failure of democratic governance in the United States specifically and in the West broadly.
We need tools to defend ourselves from the real fake news. This line of defense is built from the same stuff the bots are built from. We can use data to protect ourselves from whatever other hack related news is in our future.
This is going to have to be a two part-er. My initial Hot Sauce was going to be about how we have started to be warned by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk about the dangers of Future AI and how maybe the future is now. I still want to talk about that! Russian Troll bots have built a propaganda machine that has drifted into real life. Machines are starting to affect the way we think and cast a shadow over public opinion when they pose as real people.
But think about how this also affects the day to day jobs of the social team. We do hours of social listening and if bots are being dispatched to mislead the public, we’re marketing to robots too…
Why It’s Hot:
This week Facebook implemented a metadata change that is going to have big effects on our clients organic posts. Facebook is disallowing non-publishers from changing their metadata, to prevent the spread of fake news. While I applaud this effort this change means something for organic publishers. Facebook continues to make changes before telling it’s clients.
There is an exception for link ownership.. so action should be taken for all social accounts to “own” their websites asap. The social team has been burned once again by the team at Facebook.
And you get an update and you get an update and you get an update!
And were you looped in on the new Snap Map?
Why its hot?
Snapchat is looking to find new out of the box ways to use social and to monetize.
I still believe that Snapchat has the most unique way of looking at the internet and 1:1 interactions. They are integrating brands without insisting brands have user profiles and using the full screen in ways that Facebook might be too stuck in its ways to fully realize.
Before this week, you really needed to be in the know to make a snapchat geo-filter. It was not for the newbies among us. You had to visit a separate site, download templates and upload your filter, then have it approved. This week Snapchat added filter creation into its main app interface, with an easy to use self serve function.
I tried it, its easy as pie, but has to fit within tight confines. The filters must be built out at least 3 hours in advance, so my plan to have one for this meeting was out the window…. But here’s what it would have looked like…
Why It’s Hot:
Snapchat is selling direct to consumer. It’s been behind on the income game behind big guys like Facebook and Google. Again Snapchat is reaching out of the box.
Recently Vox came out with an article interviewing Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. Who said that polling that predicted Hillary Clinton’s win might have been up ended if pollsters had been exposed to data from Google.
Stephens did a deep dive into Google Trends under the hypothesis that people lie to pollsters, but they don’t lie to Google. He saw trends in increased searches of racial epithets and analyzed area data to find intent to vote (searching for polling places, researching candidates, etc.)
“There was a darkness and hatred that was hidden from traditional sources,” Stephens-Davidowitz says. “Those searches are hard to reconcile with a society in which racism is a small factor.”
When asked what he sees as his most startling finding…
I’m pretty convinced that the United States has a self-induced abortion crisis right now based on the volume of search inquiries. I was blown away by how frequently people are searching for ways to do abortions themselves now. These searches are concentrated in parts of the country where it’s hard to get an abortion and they rose substantially when it became harder to get an abortion. They’re also, I calculate, missing pregnancies in these states that aren’t showing up in either abortion or birth rates.
Why It’s Hot:
We are at a point of crisis in polling and electoral faith, if we have Google data to help us match results this might restore confidence in our system. This also can help point us to where people are under served or suffering in our country. By keeping anonymity, this lie free data collection keeps users protected but could use data for good…. or bad, I guess.
For anyone who knows me, this information truly hits the sweet spot in my wheelhouse. Now, not everyone is Facebook friends with their state rep like me, fortunately, there’s an app for that… Facebook!
Facebook is looking to dive deeper to connect communities locally.
“Our goal is to help people build the communities they want by making it easier for them to engage and have a voice in government – on a daily basis, not just Election Day”
New features include, constituent badges, so representatives can see that they are a constituent when they interact online, as well as a community tab, so you can see what news stories affect your community and hear about local legislation.
As Russian’s hack our newsfeeds and we all watch the Comey testimony, some of our most important legislation happens right in our backyards. It’s great that for all the global connections that we make, we are starting to see that social media can do a great job connecting communities. Isn’t that what it was originally built for?
In an act of compassion in this data driven world, Twitter announced new data controls, allowing users to customize what data they share with the company and how they are tracked. In their press release yesterday they emphasize:
“Privacy is built into our DNA as a company.”
This is all well and good, but how do you keep a populace from freaking out (let alone opting out) when presented with this pop up upon login.
Additionally Twitter is allowing you to edit your interests in order to serve you better ads… as marketers we search a lot of stuff we’re not interested in.
It’s important that Twitter is taking privacy seriously, its possible they’re committing harder to “don’t be evil” than Google is. But, it’s hard to make this pill go down, maybe they need better marketers, not better data policy.