Words to live (on the internet) by

They comment on other people’s posts.They like other people’s posts.They share them.They don’t always talk about themselves.They have kind words for other people.They help other people without expecting anything in return.Even so, they reciprocate when people help them out.They add positive energy to the net.They always try to see things from other people’s point of view.They genuinely listen.They stand up for people who are being hunted.They read posts before responding to them.

Thank you, Dave Winer, for reminding us that we don’t have to be part of the bad behaviour that seems to have become so much the norm on social networks. Small gestures by individuals can make a difference.

Source: What do nice Internet users do?

Why I won’t be using Twitter’s new content filters

Some new features to help you control what you see and who you interact with on Twitter

Twitter logo

Twitter opens a window on the world. We can see events as they occur through the eyes of first hand witnesses and we can discuss events and issues with others. We can be entertained. We can learn. We can expand our horizons.

Unfortunately, these positive experiences may be offset by exposure to trollish behaviour and harrassment.

Yesterday, Twitter announced two new features that will allow people to filter the content that they see in their notifications and main twitter stream. A new Quality Filter will suppress content that Twitter’s algorithm considers to be low quality, such as “duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated.” In addition, a new control will be added to the notifications pane to enable users to “limit notifications to only people they follow.”

Providing users with greater control over what gets into their Twitter feed will be welcomed by many.

I, however, do not plan to enable either feature. Why wouldn’t I use these features? For a couple of reasons.

First, because I curate my feed, the trolls don’t find their way into it. I am not a profligate follower. I don’t automatically follow everyone who follows me. I follow only those people who have caught my attention with their views and thoughtfulness or their humour or just the fact that they are interesting people. So, I rarely have the problem of seeing garbage content. And when I do see it, I unfollow or block the source.

Second, I don’t want an algorithm to make my content decisions for me. I especially do not want to be limited to seeing only the content of people whom I have already followed. I do want to be open to the person who I have never met but who comes into my notifications because he or she shares my interests and has responded to something I said. And that doesn’t mean just someone who agrees with me. It also means the people who disagree with me, but who offer something worth considering in their disagreement. I want to discover these people. Because contact with the people I disagree with is my protection against homophily, the tendency we all have to seek out and associate with the people we agree with, the people most like us.

Homophily is the enemy of open-mindedness. And my open Twitter feed, a feed that is open to discovery, is my protection against being trapped in the bubble of likemindedness.

And that’s why I won’t be using Twitter’s new filters. They may create a safer experience. But at a price. A price I’m not willing to pay.

Google Play extends sharing with Family Library

…we’re introducing Family Library, a way for up to six family members to share purchases on Google Play. When you buy an eligible app, game, movie, TV show, or book in the Play Store, you can now share it with your family—across devices—with no additional sign-up fee...

Netflix does it. Apple music does it. Google Play Music does it. And now Google extends sharing purchases with family members beyond music.

That’s a good thing and probably can be seen as table stakes in the online media  rental and purchase marketplace. As a father, I’ve taken advantage of family sharing for several years. It has  proven a good way for  both Apple and Google to get my family members hooked on their services, so that when they leave home they set up their own accounts.

If you haven’t got family sharing yet, you should see it in the next few days.

Source: Google Play Family Library: Share what you love with the ones you love

Hey Twitter, What’s Happening?

…most [people] didn’t know or simply misunderstood what Twitter was for – many thought of Twitter primarily as a social network, a place to find and connect with friends and family members. Second, they thought if they wanted to use Twitter, they were “supposed to Tweet every day” and didn’t think they would have that much to say. We realized we had some explaining and clarifying to do!

Twitter has problems. Growth has stalled, even shrinking. People who haven’t used it aren’t sure what it is. New users find it confusing and difficult to get started. Executives are jumping ship. And the Trolls keep popping up.

In the past year, the company has tried to handle these problems in a substantive way, introducing a raft of improvements, including better integration and display of videos, less restrictive character limits on tweets, an easier way for new users to find and connect with people,  longer and easier direct messaging, and a new timeline algorithm that shows you the top tweets that you missed when you were signed off. And in the past few weeks, it has added a raft of deals to live stream MLB and NHL games.

Now, the company is ready to reintroduce itself to the world – with a new video ad campaign headed up by the tag line, “What’s Happening.” The campaign emphasizes video of recognizable events, highlighting Twitter as a place not just to talk about what is happening, but to actually see what is happening.

I use Twitter constantly as a news feed. News about what my friends think is important. News about what is happening in the world.

I can’t imagine a world without Twitter. So, as an avid user. I wish them well. And hopefully, the last line in their blog post announcing the campaign will in fact prove to be true: “This is just the beginning!”

Fingers crossed for Twitter.

 

Source: See Whats Happening | Twitter Blogs

Announcing an Application Process for Verified Accounts

There goes the neighbourhood. Now we all can be sure that we are who we think we are. Twitter will verify it. 🙂

Verified accounts on Twitter allow people to identify key individuals and organizations on Twitter as authentic, and are denoted by a blue badge icon. An account may be verified if it is determined to be of public interest. Typically this includes accounts maintained by public figures and organizations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.

Source: Announcing an Application Process for Verified Accounts

The most important report you may read this year

FIR_itunes-cover_Inside_PR-728x728

Comscore recently published its  2016 White Paper on the U.S. Cross-platform Future.

If you’ve missed the biggest change of the past couple years, it may be because you’re still interacting with the Web and social media on a desktop or notebook device. And if you are, you’re in the minority. Yep, that’s right folks. In December 2013, 53% of the time spent on digital media platforms was on mobile, 47% on desktop. Flash forward two years later to December 2015 and 65%, two thirds, of the time we spend on digital media platforms is now time that we spend on our mobile devices. Desktops have been reduced to one third of the time.

Comscore’s data also provides some interesting insight into the use of social media and the differences between people under 35 (think Snapchat) and those over 35 (think Facebook.) But regardless of which cohort you are looking at, Mark Zuckerberg can feel good, as Facebook and Instagram rank among the top three most-used social apps across all ages.

The other side of the move to mobile is the ongoing rise of video. And this data was collected before Facebook launched Live Video.

If you’re running a communications business, the Comscore report is a must-read. In fact, you may find that it provides you with the markers around which you’ll be building your business plan for the next year. You could do a lot worse than to place your business in the path of the trends charted out by Comscore. After all, there’s nothing better than be where the future is when it arrives.

And if you’re interested, you can listen to Gini DietrichMartin Waxman, and I discuss the report on this week’s Inside PR podcast.

Facebook is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to video views and sharing

Facebook has increasingly been making moves to position itself as the preferred platform for uploading videos. This morning I saw evidence that, in fact, Facebook really is eating YouTube’s lunch when it comes to viewing and sharing videos.

The Case

We’re in the middle of a federal election in Canada. My friend, Ian Capstick, uploaded a humourous video to both Youtube and Facebook on August 28. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the YouTube embed.

The Evidence

Ian uploaded the video to both platforms on Friday, August 28. It’s now Monday, August 31 and here are the stats for the first three days since the video was uploaded:

Facebook

  • 17,000 views
  • 205 likes
  • 323 shares
  • 57 comments

YouTube

  • 5,356 views
  • 60 likes; 5 dislikes
  • 11 comments

Same video. Very different views and social gestures. Facebook is generating 300% more views than YouTube, 300% more likes, and 500% more comments.

Clearly, something big has shifted in the past year. Facebook’s new video platform is making it king of video just as it became the top platform for pictures a few years ago.

What you should do about it

This is just one case. And it doesn’t mean that YouTube is in trouble. But it provides clear evidence that YouTube no longer has the video field to itself.

If you are not uploading your videos to both YouTube and Facebook, you are missing a substantial part of your traffic. So, starting now, upload your videos to both YouTube and Facebook. The times are changing – and so is our sense of where we will find and share video.

A European, not global, right to be forgotten

 

“If the CNIL’s proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

“We believe that no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a second country can access.”

This week, Google took a stand that we all should support. It stood up against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws to restrict freedom on the internet. The specific case is the attempt by France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (C.N.I.L.) to require Google to delist links on all of its sites worldwide in order to comply with a right to be forgotten request it receives. Google  currently honours these requests by delisting the link on European Google sites. That makes sense. A European law is applied in Europe.

What the French court is trying to do is worrisome. Google is right to fight it.

At the same time, there is an irony in this situation. Google is taking a stand against the extraterritorial application of a country’s laws. However, when you consider the terms and services we all agree to in order to use sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all the most popular social sites, you will probably be agreeing to terms and services established according to U.S. standards and governed by California law. In this way, we all are really agreeing to the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws and values – not just on freedom of speech, but also things like copyright and privacy protections.

I applaud Google for standing up for freedom of expression on the Internet on this case. I just hope that my U.S. friends will also be sensitive to the fact that in some ways we all are asked to “become Americans” when we use the Internet. That’s not bad, as long as it always is balanced with a recognition that those of us who live in other countries may have different values that we hold equally dear – and that these values should be respected.

It’s a balancing act that requires that we look at situations carefully and not descend into thoughtless sloganeering.

In the case of right to be forgotten, I think Google has hit the right balance. Respect Europe’s laws in Europe. Now this issue is going before the courts in France. It won’t be decided quickly. It won’t go away. We should pay thoughtful attention.

Context

If you are interested in this subject, here are some posts that I think provide useful context:

CNIL orders Google to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine

Google Europe Blog: Implementing a European, not global, right to be forgotten

European Court Lets Users Erase Records on Web

‘Right to be forgotten’: How Canada could adopt similar law for online privacy

Facebook questions use of ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling

Consumer group asks FTC to adopt EU’s right to be forgotten

Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Facebook’s latest news feed change is just too creepy

On Friday, Facebook announced that it is changing the algorithm that determines what it shows on your news feed to “to factor in a new signal—how much time you spend viewing a story in your News Feed.”

iStock_000045129604_SmallYou read that right. Facebook is constantly watching what is on your screen. Not just what you actively click on. But what is displayed on your screen.

Up until now, the Facebook algorithm selected content that it would display to you based on active factors like whether you had shared or commented on or favourited a post. In other words, you knew that if you did something active, Facebook would know that.

But this new announcement suggests that Facebook is always aware of what is displaying on your screen – even if you don’t do anything active to it.

It feels to me that Facebook is violating my privacy. It is doing something that we see portrayed on crime shows or hear about in urban tales of hacking. It’s watching the screen on my computer. It’s watching what I see – even if I don’t do anything active with that content.

I don’t want to be watched this way. Facebook, I do NOT give you my permission to watch what is on the screen of my computer. Please leave me this bit of privacy. Please back away from using this power. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.

Facebook provides an example of why they are making this change that raises the hairs on the back of my next. According to Facebook,

For example, you may scroll quickly through your News Feed and like a photo of your friend’s graduation, followed by sharing a funny post from your sister. You keep scrolling and happen upon a post your cousin shared detailing everything she did and saw on her recent trip. Her post even includes a photo. You spend time reading her post and the interesting discussion about the best places to eat that had broken out in the comments on this post, but you don’t feel inclined to like or comment on it yourself. Based on the fact that you didn’t scroll straight past this post and it was on the screen for more time than other posts that were in your News Feed, we infer that it was something you found interesting and we may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future.”

Did you get that. Facebook acknowledges that we may choose not to make a public gesture – a like, a share, a favourite – about a piece of content we see. And you’d think that if we see something but keep our comments to ourselves that we have protected our privacy. But not in the world of Facebook. It apparently is watching every word and image that scrolls down our screens, including how long we linger over a particular item. Now that’s creepy. And that’s overly intrusive.

You might say, “If you don’t like it, don’t use Facebook.” Well the simple fact is that Facebook has been so successful in working its way onto so many cellphones and computers that not using it carries a significant social cost. To not use Facebook is equivalent to not going for a walk in your neighbourhood or not using the phone. It has become a utility that we cannot do without.

I would argue that, thanks to its success in becoming ubiquitous and essential to our social lives, it carries an increased responsibility to us. And that responsibility is to behave in a way that we feel comfortable with. That means there are some things that Facebook should not do – like watch us constantly, even when we are not actively interacting with it. Facebook may be able to do it. But that doesn’t mean it should. We all learned early that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it.

Facebook is saying that it will limit the use of this information. According to HuffPost, “A spokeswoman for Facebook told The Huffington Post that the amount of time spent looking at content would not be made available to publishers or advertisers, and that it is purely used to determine how content is surfaced on the News Feed.”

For now, Facebook is not sharing this data. But let’s remember that Facebook makes its money selling advertising. We the users are the product. And it has changed its practices whenever it felt that it would be beneficial to Facebook. So, the fact that it says it is not doing something now should not be taken as any comfort that it won’t change that policy tomorrow.

The only defence against this possibility is to stop Facebook from starting down this path.

So, how can we stop this? Well a first step is for Facebook users to voice our disapproval over this move and to call on Facebook to stop this practice. That’s what I’m doing here. And I encourage you to do it as well. On your Facebook feed. On Twitter. On Reddit. On every social network you use.

But do I think that will change Facebook’s mind? Not likely.

This may be one of those instances when we have to turn to government to protect our rights. And the right to privacy is one right that we should be vigilant to preserve. We’ve seen a heightened scrutiny of Facebook’s privacy practices in Europe. I think this latest move is something that privacy commissioners across jurisdictions should examine. In the past, the Privacy Commissioner in Canada has been willing to challenge Facebook’s practices in the past. This is a perfect opportunity for privacy commissioners everywhere to engage with Facebook.

Attack on the Spirit of Social Media

When I first started to use the Internet, it was a place for people who had some basic coding skill to share their thoughts, their experiences, their interests, with others. It was a distinctly Uncommercial place. In fact, I remember the first time I saw someone try to promote a product on the Web. He was quickly flamed by others and branded as a bad actor.

But as we look at the Web and what grew into social media today, that version of the Internet as a community coming together to freely and generously share with one another is a distant memory. (In fact, I was reminded of this the other day and wrote a post remarking on the value of community-created, freely shared content.)

So, I found my head nodding as I watched Jay Baer express his distress over recent moves by Twitter and LinkedIn that undermined the maker spirit of the early Internet and further pushed us toward a totally commercialized environment of walled gardens.

Jay is a smart guy. And I feel his pain over these developments. Especially since I’m one of those people toiling to develop an application, 76insights, that relies on the APIs of the social networks.

I worry about where we may be going. And so does Jay. But as always, he says it particularly well. So, watch his video.

If you are interested in more thoughts from a leader in the digital marketing space, subscribe to Jay’s Jay Today podcast. It’s always interesting and thought provoking.