This is a great read on the problem we keep running into with tech companies completely dropping the ball when tragedy strikes, consistently caught with their algorithms pushing conspiracy theories, fake news and other hoaxes. In each case, the companies in question talk about how hard it is to police the trillions of data points their systems are meant to process and promise to do better and each time they drop the ball. While yes, the problem would likely be solved in large part by shifting resources from algorithms to human editors, that would entail them dropping the useful fiction that they’re not media companies, a fig leaf that protects them (for now) from more serious government scrutiny.

A Danish television intentionally took a two-week hiatus from posting stories to Facebook to see exactly how much of an impact it could have and the results will shock you!

At least some of the Ist/DNAInfo news sites are coming back to life under a new deal with the public radio stations in a few markets. Too bad Chicago isn’t on that list.

Speaking of site takedowns, new details have emerged on how Peter Thiel wound up being able to take on Gawker and erase it from existence. It boils down to the reality that powerful people don’t like organizations and people that don’t play by “polite” rules (see also: every the entire conservative media’s reaction to the Parkland, FL teens) and will use their money to punish them. Also on the “behind the scenes” front is this examination of the problems that have plagued Newsweek for the last few years.

Publishers cut the number of native videos they were producing for Facebook in half, on average, after the network, stopped subsidizing them. But that’s alright because Facebook got what it wanted, causing the entire rest of the industry to “pivot to video” and make other changes that have come back to bite it in the backside, leaving Facebook to keep dominating on other fronts with lots more data at its disposal.

Warner Archive always seemed odd in the idea but awesome in execution. Now its substantial catalog of classic films is part of FilmStruck, which makes so much more sense.

Meanwhile CBS Sports is launching a free OTT service that’s pretty much meant to take the wind out of ESPN’s sails before that service debuts.

Marketing / Advertising

It’s good that Facebook is working to make ad metrics more streamlined and understandable, eliminating quite a few redundant or confusing numbers and offering more education on what remains. It would be even better if it opened up their ad business to auditing and verification by a third party service, but we’ll take baby steps for a (checks notes) decade-old company, I guess.

A super-interesting read on the various forces at work that have resulted in the logos for many tech and other companies looking remarkably similar.

Overlooked, I think, in the ongoing discussion of which companies have or haven’t cut official ties with the NRA is that while these companies may benefit from conservative policies, more and more studies are showing that younger people want to work for or do business with those that align themselves with progressive causes and viewpoints. *That’s* what I believe is driving a lot of that movement.

Social Media

There are a dozen things that are disturbing or mind-blowing in this piece at Wired about how Facebook’s ad marketplace seems to have been custom-built to benefit someone as outrageous and shock-inducing as Donald Trump, a situation that allowed his campaign ads in 2016 to achieve a reach that significantly outstripped ads bought FOR THE SAME AMOUNT by the Clinton campaign.

Automatic captions, location-tagging, enhanced chat and more are all part of the update package coming to YouTube.


As expected, Google made a big announcement about its augmented reality platform at Mobile World Congress, including the news it would have an exclusive Pokemon Go-like AR game called “Ghostbusters World.”

Mobile devices will, according to Forrester, play role in one-third of all retail purchases in 2018, though that could fall anywhere along the customer journey, from awareness or research to final purchase. Activity is still split between native apps and the mobile web, meaning retailers can’t ignore either format.

Yes, Google is a monopoly that uses its dominance to snuff out smaller – or even bigger – competitors.

No big deal, just data-mining companies analyzing not just your actual health information but your interaction patterns with your mobile device for clues as to your physical and emotional well-being.

At first I was going to be snarky about this story and how tech jobs that don’t require a college degree or the same amount of experience are popping up in the Midwest, but then I realized that’s a good thing as it means people don’t have to incur the expense of moving to an often-unaffordable area like San Francisco just to work in their desired field.

More airlines are considering creating customer profiles based on IP addresses and more that could be used to create a variable pricing model that will almost certainly wind up having issues of racial bias because that’s what’s happened with literally every other instance of something like this being implemented.

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Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.