Why Do We Think Facebook Can Fix This?


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The last 24 hours have not been kind to Facebook’s already bruised image. Above are four headlines, all of which clogged my inbox as I cleared email after a day full of meetings.

Let’s review: Any number of Facebook’s core customers – advertisers – are feeling duped and cheated (and have felt this way for years). A respected reporter who was told by Facebook executives that the company would not use data collected by its new Portal product, is now accusing the company of misrepresenting the truth  (others would call that lying, but the word lost its meaning this year). The executive formerly in charge of Facebook’s security is…on an apology tour, convinced the place he worked for has damaged our society (and he’s got a lot of company).

In other news, Facebook has now taken responsibility for protecting the sanctity of our elections, by, among other things, banning “false information about voting requirements and fact-check[ing] fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations.”

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Dear Marc and Lynne: Time Needs You.


The Benioffs join Bezos, Jobs, and others who’ve turned to publishing to cement their legacies. But a hands off approach isn’t what journalism needs right now.

Time cover trump king

The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper I ever read – I even attended a grammar school named for its founding family (the Chandlers). Later in life I worked at the Times for a summer – and found even back then, the great brand had begun to lose its way.

I began reading The Atlantic as a high schooler in the early 1980s, and in college I dreamt of writing long form narratives for its editors. In graduate school, I even started a publication modeled on The Atlantic‘s brand – I called it The Pacific. My big idea: The west coast was a huge story in desperate need of high-quality narrative journalism. (Yes, this was before Wired.)

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Note to Self: Remember to Answer the Senators’ Followup Questions.


Following my Senate testimony last month, several Senators reached out with additional questions and clarification requests. As I understand it this is pretty standard. Given I published my testimony here earlier, I asked if I could do the same for my written followup. The committee agreed, the questions and my answers are below.

Questions for the Record from Sen. Cortez Masto (D. Nevada)

Facebook Audits

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WTF is SMA?!


Social Media Amplification unites social with paid media. It’s crazy that we haven’t done this already.

For all its promise, digital marketing remains an unfortunately siloed business. Nearly every brand invests in both social media — teams of people who agonize about what content to place and promote on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms — as well as paid media — the ads you see across the “rest of the web.”

And here’s the crazy part: In most marketing departments, the teams who run social rarely, if ever work, closely with the teams who create traditional paid media. If that sounds crazy, well, you’re right. It is.

Although the metrics can be quite different, the goals of these tactics are essentially the same: Creating awareness and conversions against targeted audiences, building relationships with current and new customers, and driving engagement for the brand overall. Put another way, social media and paid media teams have the same goal: engaging customers and driving interest in purchase.

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Two Thirds of the U.S. Population Wrongly Believe Facebook Sells Their Data


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

How does this impact their Facebook habits?

A month ago, I suggested that the Facebook Golum will never give up on its data ring — that perfect, shiny, gigantic stream of information about two billion people globally.

Where my Golum comparison goes awry, however, is in the realisation that the real battle of the ring depends on understanding what it is. Facebook users, most of us, do not know the ring.

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European Union Calls Foul on Facebook


The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories

Esther Vargas | Facebook

Right now the European Union is a lot more serious than the U.S. about protecting users’ privacy. Signaling that it means business, the union has fined Facebook 110 million euros for providing inaccurate information to EU regulators about its acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 (Reuters).

At the time, Facebook had said that it couldn’t match individual users’ Facebook accounts with their accounts on WhatsApp. But last year the social network did just that. Facebook says it made an unintentional error in its filings. The root of the issue lies in Facebook’s effort to reduce duplicate accounts, which skew the total-user numbers that its market valuation depends on (Quartz).

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When Called to A Senate Hearing, It’s Best to Wear A Tie


What I said when DC came calling.

Now I know how it feels. Kinda. (image)

Last Sunday was Father’s Day, and I never thought I’d say this, but I was glad to get a tie, because my wife knew I would need it (it’s been literally over a decade since I’ve worn one). Today I was called to testify before a Senate Commerce committee hearing on Facebook and the role of data in society. Apparently they’ve been reading my work and, well, that landed me in DC. My full written testimony, replete with dozens of links to my previous work and coming in at 2500 or so words, is published on Searchblog. Below is what I read into verbal testimony before the Senators got into a couple hours of questioning, which, by they way, I found to be well informed and enlightened.

Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks

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Apple Wants Its Phones Back



Source: https://www.apple.com/apple-events/june-2018/

Apple dropped a bomb at their global developer conference: It’s stepping in to curb phone addiction. This is a big blow to the ad-driven platforms that have hijacked our phones and our attention.

Right before Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software, demonstrated the latest advancements in emojis, including tongue detection, he announced the release of “a comprehensive set of built in features to help you limit distraction.” This is a big deal, because until now, we have been fending for ourselves — and we’re totally outgunned in the war for attention.

Attention is the oxygen of advertising.

There’s a reason why phones are so addictive: ad money. You paid for your phone, but most of the things you do on it are powered by advertising. Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all make their money from advertising.

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Are We Dumb Terminals?


The social architecture of our relationship with data is broken. But we’ve overcome this problem before. We should do it again.

(cross posted from Searchblog)

God, “innovation.” First banalized by undereducated entrepreneurs in the oughts, then ground to pablum by corporate grammarians over the past decade, “innovation” — at least when applied to business — deserves an unheralded etymological death.

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The Future of Advertising Is In the Hands of Ad Blockers


Young adults are hungry for the ad industry to be better. They are right.

“I block ads because I believe ads can be so much better.”

This was a direct quote from an advertising student at the University of Texas. I visited campus recently and had the opportunity to talk informally with advertising students from the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations. What I learned affirmed my faith in the future of advertising. I also walked away with a strong sense that these young students, if given the chance to practice the craft the way they see it, would upend the whole industry.

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