Does NESTA’s Manifesto For A Creative Economy serve any purpose in the era of Facebook data harvesting?

Credit: pixabay

A Scary Scandal

In 2013, NESTA created ‘A Manifesto For The Creative Economy’ where they made ten proposals. One of these was to create an open internet by monitoring market abuse and addressing concerns swiftly. However, the recent Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal could suggest they have failed in this proposal. In light of this event, we must question if NESTA’s proposals have any real influence when this blatant abuse of the internet went on for so many years?

Cambridge Analytica uses data, in their own words “to change audience behaviour”. For four years, they were able to harvest Facebook user’s data, from their birthdates to their interests, and even their private conversations. They accessed user’s information through an app which was used through Facebook. This data was consequently used to target users based on their personal information. Shockingly this information was used was to target people with political messages. One of the company’s clients were none other than Donald Trump, whose campaign to become the president involved using this data. The company boasts about their influential achievements in a video on their website, which can be seen below.

It was not until March 2018 that the actions of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook became public. A former employee of Cambridge Analytica spoke out against the practices, and also gave evidence to the British government.

 

What Could Have Been Done?

NESTA’s ‘A Manifesto For A Creative Economy’ had proposed that Ofcom should be given more power to monitor activity on the internet to act as a ‘warning system’ for potential abuses of power. To do this Ofcom would coordinate with the Information Commissioner’s Office on data protection issues. However, this clearly wasn’t executed in the case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Does this not show that the Manifesto has had no effect on the future of the creative economy?

The Manifesto made it clear that NESTA were aware of the potential breaches to people’s privacy on social media sites, and that these could result in users being targeted. Thus, why were there not precautions to ensure Facebook could not underhandedly obtain 87 million people’s private data?

This form of data harvesting is illegal in a number of countries including in the United Kingdom. Cambridge Analytica are currently being investigated by many European countries, in addition to America. However, this is too little, too late. NESTA should have played a role in protecting the creative economy, however the Manifesto failed to highlight the corruption which was taking place on the internet. How can the creative economy continue to thrive if there is no safeguarding in place to protect it?

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Action taken by countries is too late                                                                                                                       Credit: Pixabay

The Future

The digital economy is worth £118 billion, this figure is set to increase in the years to come. It is an important part of the creative economy, therefore it is essential the internet is an open and safe space. Facebook alone has 2.2 billion users, it is essential that their personal data is protected.

NESTA acknowledged in the Manifesto that it is ultimately “for the Government to decide” if there were going to be further steps taken to protect the internet. Does this prove that NESTA has no real power to influence the creative economy? It does point to the fact that one of the key voices about the creative economy is not helping to sustain it. Therefore, unless something is going to change, we must ask will the creative economy continue to thrive?

All photos taken from pixabay.com, licensed under the creative commons zero (CC0) license

 

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How the World Got Cat-fished

Let’s be honest, in this day and age how many of us don’t have some form of social media account? Marketed as great places to interact, who would have imagined that behind the scenes of social media our personal information was making us the perfect target consumer?

In research carried out by the Pew Research Centre, 80% of us social media users have expressed concerned about advertisers accessing our data and I know some users out there are blissfully unaware that their data is even used at all.  A further 54% of consumers would say they actually trust advertisers online, found in research by Digital Content Next. The fears over the protection of our data may have finally reached their peak in the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook and their partnership with Cambridge Analytica have taken data mining to rock bottom, and I’m giving you the break down on what this means for our online privacy.

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Credit: Pexels

 

What is Cambridge Analytica?

Let’s start this modern day horror story from the beginning, shall we? Cambridge Analytica was designed to “use data to change audience behaviour”, but how this data is ‘used’ has gone suspiciously undefined. The scandal has used some 50 million Facebook profiles, yes you heard me right, which Christopher Wylie (the company’s lead contractor) says were used without permission. The Guardian did their research, and found that Facebook has known about the breach since 2015 but done nothing. Its nice to know our information is in safe hands… This simple yet shocking fact truly hits the home button with what I, and I’m sure every social media user, has always feared.

 

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Now, our greatest concern may be how this affects us and our online privacy, right? Wrong. In the case of someone who has longed to work in the advertising industry since the beginning of time, this scandal has mind-blowing implications for the future of this sector. In a 2013 Creative Industries Manifesto , Hargreaves and his team discusses how “the competitive edge that social media gives advertisers to target consumers is paramount to the growth of this sector”. Simple use of data collection has become the most efficient way of advertising. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has opened new tabs to scrutiny of this creative sector for using similar tactics to sell products. Setting my own personal (and admittedly rather pessimistic) view aside, a level of uncertainty has definitely been cast over the future of this creative sector, as in recent years it has become almost entirely reliant on social media data.

And if you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the advertising world, Facebook has recently announced its decision to scrap third party data for targeted adverts. In other words, no more ads that use your data. Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook “will allow advertisers to use third-party data to create audiences on Facebook; however, we will require all advertisers to represent and warrant that proper consent has been obtained.” Could this change in online policy mean the advertising industry needs to re-think its creative tactics? Jon Loomer commented on the matter in his blog urging advertisers to “rely less on what you’ve always done and try something different.”

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Credit: Reddit.com

 

Something different?

Incase I haven’t made it clear enough, the importance of social media to the future of advertising is near crucial, with the 2013 NESTA Manifesto in agreement. But, here’s where this blog offers some light at the end of the tunnel. The Manifesto also notes how the increased use of online adverts is producing a ‘content glut’. I think we can all agree that we’re tired of constant pop-ups, cookie notifications and unwanted ads on our internet pages. So what if the Cambridge Analytica scandal leads to a new and refreshed advertising market?

Advertisers need to return to their creative roots in the ever-morphing world of the digital jungle. Who doesn’t love a well thought out ad? I know I’m not the only one who cried at the lonely man on the moon last Christmas, or laughs my ass off at the bald MoneySuperMarket man strutting in heels. Lets get back to the roots that produce feel-good ads and catchy theme tunes, that actually makes you want to buy a new product without feeling manipulated. Roots that showcase the creative flare that got this industry its creative and cultural title.

 

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Credit: Pexels

 

What are the limits of artificial intelligence?

What are the barriers separating machines from us?

Repeatedly we are seeing artificial intelligence (AI) mentioned on almost every tech website – some voicing their concerns and others looking toward future possibilities. Today, we ourselves are already using different kinds of AI – such as virtual personal assistants, on our phones and on our computers.

Although it may be assumed by many as a recent technology, artificial intelligence is far from being new, and has been studied since the 1950s. So what has made AI important again? Or are we just encountering another cycle of hype like we did in the 1970s?

Artificial intelligence is about creating machines that have the ability to think like the human mind, and being able to do the right thing at the right time. Tech giants are applying AI to all kinds of data, and it is currently being used for smart cars, video games, purchase prediction and fraud prevention.

More recently we are seeing AI being tested in order to create self-driving vehicles, and there have even been claims that IKEA are diving in to the world of AI. From Facebook’s AI claiming to spot suicidal users to AI being able to predict when the heart will fail, the opportunities seem endless.

It’s easy to imagine a machine like Apple’s SIRI or Amazon’s ALEXA in the future engaging with others, answering questions or satisfying commands, however just because they can recognise voice and images, there is still a lot of work to be done. If you watch this video without being critical, it does seem believable.

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What are the limitations of artificial intelligence?

Natural intelligence is, by definition, embodied. Artificial intelligence are not yet capable of working the same way that brains do. The reality is that artificial intelligence lacks the ability to understand, let alone answer questions that we might ask to others.

In reality, conversation involves people making assessments of each other and knowing what to say based on their own experience. Some questions require an understanding about different contexts and how people operate in daily life.

Imagine asking an AI programmed machine “I’m going to bake a pie tonight, what do you think?”. Most tools will offer a wealth of recipes, instructions etc., but it will not however tell you what it thinks about that.

AI limitations include the fact that there are many questions that AI are incapable of answering, which can be answered by a human ever so easily. Researches have continuously studied AI’s capabilities over time, and have not yet found a solution for this.

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Google’s self-driving car (Source: Smoothgroover22 via Flickr) 

AI based search methods are never guaranteed to reach the optimal solution. When using AI in order to resolve an issue, it is difficult to gain true insight into the nature of the problem. AI’s can be referred to as little black boxes that simply seek to map a relationship between output and input variables grounded on a training data set.

This raises multiple questions concerning the ability of the tool to establish situations that were not represented in the data set.

Another limitation, which is not quite a technical limitation, but an issue that needs to be addressed – if artificial intelligence was utilised to build vehicles, who should be responsible if the vehicle were to crash?

Understanding these limitations are crucial to understanding the future potential of AI, and what it means to be “intelligent”. While researchers face multiple problems facing the future of AI, it is not to say that future predictions are unachievable.

The BBC claims that if AI is to be successful, 2050 may be the year that we see it.

 

Featured image: A health blog via Flickr.

Can Facebook really help build a global community?

What really happens when a billionaire businessman has a political agenda?

Mark Zuckerberg recently posted a lengthy and ambitious manifesto setting out Facebook’s future while responding to the ‘fake news’ controversy.  The manifesto detailed Zuckerberg’s vision of a global community, and suggests that Facebook is on its way to being a global ideological movement.

While thousands took to their keyboards to leave approving comments, some scepticism remains. The hefty proposition is in some areas a little vague, and leaves room for a number of questions.

What initially comes to mind is, how can you lead a global community when you profit from capturing users’ attention and then selling it to advertisers? Zuckerberg mentions “the people left behind by globalisation” all while managing to pay minute amounts of tax. How genuine is wanting to build on certain areas of our communities while being unwilling to pay towards benefiting the ones we have now?

Among claims that this is an attempt to purchase political power, perhaps we must acknowledge the fact that he has attempted to formulate a political vision in the first place. Of course, society needs powerful people with good intentions, but we must always look a little deeper.

Should Facebook be involving itself in a political agenda in the first place? The power that Facebook holds can be used to exploit citizens in unparalleled ways. The picture we can receive when thinking about Facebook’s involvement in the government is fearfully close to resembling ‘big brother’.

While Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building a global community, when will we begin to see some changes? While the examples he gives which regard how Facebook is a tool for great changes, is it just that? A tool? At the end of the day, the power still resides in the people, and for us to help one another it takes the person to do so, and not the tool.

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Is this what our future community looks like? (Source: Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr).

book’s future plans seem to rely heavily on artificial intelligence, which are still in the ‘early stages’ of creation. While Facebook is in a position to stop crisis, currently it can hardly seem to battle trolls with its current advances – let alone prevent harm.

Additionally, the risk of putting so much into an online community risks losing the offline one. As we become more and more concerned about what is happening online, we risk becoming less aware of what is happening offline. While it becomes easier to talk to strangers in cyberspace, it becomes more difficult to talk to our neighbours in reality. Is this the kind of global community we really want to build?

While Facebook has long encouraged people to spend increasing time online, where we can “look at many activities through the lens of a building community” like “reading our favourite newspaper” – all seems a little hypocritical while he fails to mention that activities such as reading our favourite newspapers will not always be an option if Facebook continues to prove itself as one of the biggest challenges to the publishing industry today.

A huge hand points to the old ‘actions speak louder than words’. Critical analysis aside – nothing is impossible, and technological advances have exceeded our expectations before. He is right to claim that it needs to start somewhere, and myself, I hope he succeeds.

(Featured Image: The Crunchies! via Flickr)

 

 

 

What the growth of Facebook means to journalism…

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, published a declaration article titled ‘Building a Global Community’ in February this year to outline long-term development plans for his world’s biggest social media platform. It seemed as if the manifesto was written in response to the recent criticism against Facebook that the social networking site has been partially responsible for fake news and the rise of populism in Europe and America. This long declaration indicated that Zuckerberg is now trying to become the world leader of humanitarianism. Based on the belief that most of today’s issues facing humanity require global responses, Zuckerberg writes:

‘In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us’.

Zuckerberg outlines five key sections that need to be achieved in order for Facebook to become a global community in the next few decades:

  1. Supportive Community – Following the declining participation in traditional institutions such as local communities, Facebook is going to revitalise these important social infrastructure.
  2. Safe Community – Facebook is going to help people avoid harm and danger and offers support in the time of crisis for restoration.
  3. Informed Community – Facebook is going to achieve a society in which anyone can express his/her opinions while exposing themselves to new ideas to accelerate mutual understandings.
  4. Civically-engaged Community – Facebook is going to encourage civic participation in order to alter the situation in which only half the population participates in elections.
  5. Inclusive Community – Facebook is going to achieve an inclusive society, which is based on shared values and humanitarianism, transcending the differences in cultures and nations.

 

Optimism

Following this manifesto, as a user of Facebook, I’m now looking forward to seeing a further technical improvement on the platform as well as provision of new, convenient services. For example, as shown in the video below, Facebook can help people meet others who might share the same problem and establish social networks for mutual support to overcome various issues together. I expect that the development in the analytic quality, including AI can improve the accuracy of group recommendations as well as leading to many other functional improvements.

 

Pessimism

Having said that, I’m very concerned about the future of journalism given that Google and Facebook enjoy extreme domination over the digital advertising industry. When you consider the striking fact that Facebook generated a total profit of 8 billion dollars over the past 4 years, you can’t expect what the future financial devastation will be for journalism.

Following the rapid digitalisation of advertising industry, the revenue stream for journalism has been hugely damaged and the past decade saw closures of a number local newspapers. One of the important roles that used to be, and still are played by local media is to function as a social infrastructure that enables a supportive, safe, informed, civically-engaged and inclusive community, which is exactly what Facebook is now proposing to achieve.

If existing local media continue disappearing due to a growing number of people relying on Facebook instead for the provision of information, who will be a watchdog of the local authority and who will carry out investigative reporting? Unfortunately, I don’t think such question was adequately addressed in the letter from Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has been testing various ways to coexist with journalism, but it still feels likely that local media will continue to vanish unless they make effective changes in their business model. Zuckerberg is not obliged to solve these issues for journalism, but given his excessive financial capability, his cooperation will be urgently necessary for media organisations. In other words, He’s the one who can destroy journalism, but he’s also the one who can save it.

 

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27620885@N02/5262946223

 

Is Zuckerberg killing journalism? A response to his ‘Building Global Community’ letter

Facebook CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg has connected friends and families across the globe for the past decade and now wants to connect everything in a bid to bring humanity closer together, with the objective of making the world a better place.

In February 2017, Zuckerberg published an almost 6,000 word letter to his Facebook page, offering an ambitious vision for Facebook’s global role. He acknowledged the mistakes that have been made by the social media giant and reflected on where Facebook is headed, extending its moves far beyond status updates and photo sharing.  Zuckerberg stated in his letter:

“Today we are close to taking our next step. Our greatest opportunities are now global – like spreading prosperity and freedom, promoting peace and understanding, lifting people out of poverty, and accelerating science. Our greatest challenges also need global responses — like ending terrorism, fighting climate change, and preventing pandemics. Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community”.

In particular, Zuckerberg outlined five domains of focus that would contribute to developing the social infrastructure of our community. These included making communities “supportive“, “safe“, “informed“, “civically engaged” and “inclusive“. Such declaration of principles have the potential to help restore trust in the news information delivered on digital platforms, in which Zuckerberg declared as “critical to building an informed community”. He added, “giving people a voice is not enough without having people dedicated to uncovering new information and analysing it.”

However, his aspirations for Facebook merely describe building a media company with fundamental journalistic goals. He understands the importance of news organisations providing the basis for public action by building and strengthening community ties, stating in his manifesto: “reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement”. Yet his letter is ignorant to the role that Facebook and other technology platforms are playing in inadvertently damaging local news media, and to the one way they could actually save journalism: with a massive philanthropic commitment.

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Facebook is already an existing threat to print media

Facebook’s existing threat to journalism is well established, in part because local news’ business models have collapsed. As advertising spending shifted from print, TV and radio to the internet, the money did not mostly go to digital news organisations, but increasingly it goes to Facebook and Google. Facebook is much better at community building in the digital age than news organisations are, putting them at an advantage. Users willingness to pour endless personal information about themselves into Facebook allows the site to sell targeted advertising around them, making social media platforms appealing to businesses, whilst also saving businesses massive amounts of money, is a privilege newspapers cannot compete with.

Consequently, newsrooms have been decimated, with basic accountability reporting slashed as a result. Combining this with the repackaging of news online, whereby clickbait allows the function of building a news organisation without journalists, making news bias and not fit to serve its purpose. Journalism still requires a contextual search for truth, yet this process of destruction will put an end to journalism as we know it.

It is not Zuckerberg’s responsibility to solve journalism’s broken business model, but it could be argued that he has a moral imperative to do so given his position of power. With the money, the know-how and the obligation, maybe it is time for the disrupters to solve the problem’s journalism is facing; to create the nuanced world we want for generations to come.

Photo Credit: http://www.startlr.com/facebook-can-show-its-hardware-development-in-april/ 

A Facebook Future: Utopia or Dystopia?

In February earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg released a 5,700 word letter on Facebook titled ‘Building Global Community’. This blog post is not a summary of the points that Zuckerberg makes in his letter, but looks specifically at his belief that artificial intelligence and technological advancements are an answer to many of the world’s problems. Despite his best intentions, his solutions seem ideological and create a Utopian feel to the letter.

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Image credit: Unsplash

Zuckerberg’s letter included five sections that commented on Facebook’s role in online communities:

  • Supportive community
  • Safe community
  • Informed community
  • Civically-engaged community
  • Inclusive community

Each of these sections explained how Facebook could be a force for good in helping to build these types of communities online and offline.

In the first paragraph, Zuckerberg states that he aims to answer the question:

“are we building the world we all want?”

The answer to this question is of course, no. Everyone has their own vision of a perfect world. But the fact that Zuckerberg thinks that this is possible is idealistic which is reflected in some of his ideas for global improvement. His main answer to global issues is that at some point in the future, there will be technology to solve the world’s problems.

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There have been a number of speculations about the reasons behind this letter, such as Zuckerberg’s political aspirations to run for presidency in the near future, or Facebook’s aim to take over the digital world. Despite his motivations being unclear, it is evident that his intentions are to genuinely make a positive impact on the world. However, many of his statements about Facebook’s place in the global community refer to technological advancements that could be many years away. This is problematic since it shows Zuckerberg’s idealistic view that technology will solve the world’s problems and echoes the motto of the World State in Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World: “Community, Identity, Stability”.

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Image credit: Facebook

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2017 is the year of misinformation and fake news, something that Zuckerberg made sure to mention in his letter since Facebook has been criticised for the amount on their website. The company are finding it increasingly difficult to control content on their site with billions of users able to freely use it how they wish. Again, his answer is that he hopes there will be artifial intelligence in the future to combat this, but that it could be a long way off.

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April 2017 saw the ‘Facebook murderer’ in the headlines with many complaints about the amount of time that it took Facebook to take the video offline. Zuckerberg’s response was to say, similarly to his letter that they have a lot of work to do, which although displays that he is aware that Facebook is not perfect, he admits to mistakes but offers no immediate solutions, instead he repetitively states that they are working on technology to combat this.

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Image credit: Unsplash

Although there is a lot of innovation happening in the technology industry, it is possible that there is too much pressure on future technologies to solve todays problems. This is the main issue of Zuckerberg’s letter since although he admits to Facebook’s imperfections, he idealistically argues that future technology will play a part in his utopian social infrastructure despite the technology being potentially years away.

However, it can be seen that Zuckerberg realises the power of Facebook and so wants the world to know that he is trying to govern it as honestly and as best as he can. Zuckerberg did not have to write this letter, but the fact that he did shows that he knows he is responsible for the potential uses of Facebook, and that he did not intend for it to be used in a negative way at all. It can be seen that Facebook’s position in society is getting stronger with the increasing digital economy and whether it has a dystopic or utopic future is yet unclear.

 

There is no such thing as #NoFilter

When Ian Hargreaves came to speak to us about the challenges facing the creative economy and the creative industries, he mentioned ‘filter bubbles’ as something that might have a detrimental effect on digital democracy. And indeed, these effects may already have shown themselves in real life democracy.

Tunnel vision

We all know 2016 was a weird year. First Brexit happened. Then Trump was elected President of the USA. Both events came as huge surprises. No one thought it was actually going to happen. From where we were sat in the middle of our very own ‘filter bubble’, we could not see that anyone actually held a different perspective to ours.

This is exactly what ‘filter bubbles’ do. In actual fact, they are not bubbles, but algorithms that personalise what we see online – be it your Facebook feed or a Google search. The algorithms increase people’s chances of coming into contact with news or media that carry the same ideas, themes or perspectives as the news or media you have previously digitally engaged with. As a result, we develop tunnel vision as news consumers. The only news we come across is of the same view as our own, and we become “victims of our own biases”, according to Wired.

Eli Pariser coined the term back in 2011. In a Ted Talk from the same year, he explains that he first noticed these algorithms when his conservative Facebook friends’ post started disappearing from his news feed. As a liberalist, he enjoyed sharing opinions and discussions with them, but Facebook no longer showed him their point of view.

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Source: Flickr.com Copyright: CC BY-SA 2.0

The dangers of living in a bubble

This lack of differing opinion is what makes filter bubbles so scary and, as Hargreaves says, possibly harmful for democracy. As increasingly more people consume news through social media, the less accurate our news pictures will become. People might think they are receiving a representative view of the world but in reality, they are only seeing the insides of their own bubbles. This is what many believe is to blame for the surprises of Brexit and Trump’s successes.

However, during this time, digital society has also seen the increase of fake news. Thanks to social media and their filter bubbles, people now consume news from fewer media outlets than they would before and are also willing to believe far more out-there stories. For example, after the US President Election it was found that some pro-Trump news stories that had been actively shared on Facebook prior to the election, were indeed fake news. Although filter bubbles aren’t fully to blame for fake news, “they incubated them and helped them spread”, in the words of Pariser, and are damaging people’s faith in journalism.

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Eli Pariser at Knight Foundation’s Media Learning Seminar 2012. Source: WikiMedia Commons. Copyright: CC BY-SA 2.0.

Even though Facebook claims their vision is to “make the world more open and connected”, they still refuse to see themselves as a media corporation. Considering the development, this is a scary thought. Still, they have said to be working on new ways to filter out fake news.

How to burst the bubble

Already in 2011, Pariser called for the coders of the Internet to embed ethics into their algorithms. He claimed that the Internet, which was supposed to open doors that were previously controlled by gatekeepers, were now controlled by algorithmic gatekeepers that did not yet have the same ethics as editors of pre-Internet media outlets. As this is yet to happen, it is time we, as citizens of the Web, start taking back control and burst our own filter bubbles.

Here are some ways in which you as a social media user and news consumer can do that:

  • Don’t rely solely on social media. Go find our own news by looking at varied, even contradicting, news sites. This will make your filter more inclusive.
  • If you do see a news story on social media and want to share it, do a quick Google search to see if ‘trustworthy’ news outlets are reporting the same story.
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Source: Flickr. Copyright: CC BY 2.0

Cover photo made by the author is free to use under CC BY 2.0.

Facebook: the biggest liar of them all

 

Astronomical in length, Mark Zuckerberg posted a letter to his Facebook page pronouncing a series of alterations to the social network’s unofficial mission statement that has been a long time coming titled ‘Building Global Community’. The epic message acknowledges both the mistakes that have been made and reflects on where Facebook is headed. Although most of the policy put forward is absolutely necessary to advance Facebook as a channel of diverse communication, there are still some points which remain under question.

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One section addresses ‘Informed Community’ whereby worries surrounding fake news, filter bubbles, sensationalism and polarization are brought into discussion. With over 1.86 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of March 2017, the number of individuals exposed to news on social media platforms has dramatically increased, but how much of the information is true?

Social media is by no means intended as a platform to obtain news, and whilst this new feature is becoming ever-more present, articles submitted are typically written by citizens outside of respectable professional bodies resulting in the distribution of unreliable news. Zuckerberg states, “our approach will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute an item’s accuracy.” While presenting a diversity of perspectives creates well-informed citizens, the issue still lies in the circulation of ‘fake news’. These dishonest pieces hold the potential to be of particular harm to inexperienced consumers, including youths, who are likely to lack the media literacy skills required to critically engage with dubious material and are likely to subsequently fail spotting unreliable news.

While accuracy of sources is undoubtedly important, ‘filter bubbles’ are additional cause for major concern. These can restrict Facebook users from viewing particular information deemed ‘uninteresting’ to the individual based on algorithms monitoring previous activity. Surely this is an attack on democracy. Providing users with a more complete picture of the news is compulsory, and research shows that exposing individuals to a range of perspectives, allowing them to conclude what is right for themselves, is the most effective method for a well-informed citizen.

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Despite these anxieties, Zuckerberg’s major concern encompasses sensationalism and polarization on social media. As a short-form medium where resonant messages get amplified many times in order to attract attention and gain a reading, social media favors astonishing headlines promising sensational content. As a consequence, simplicity is rewarded and nuance is discouraged as he explains, “some people share stories based on sensational headlines without ever reading the story.” As these elaborate headlines intend to attract a large readership, there is potential for the oversimplification of significant topics resulting in a decrease of substantially important information. In some cases, information may even be skewed in favor of the author’s views. This polarization pushes readers towards extremes, and with polarized opinions means loss in common understanding. Surely this mocks traditional journalistic practices, diminishing the number of informed citizens and weakening democracy.

Do you believe anything social media tells us?

Dear, Mr Zuckerberg… Facebook cannot solve everything.

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Mark Zuckerberg released  the manifesto ‘Building Global Community’

When you think of Mark Zuckerberg you might think of an entrepreneur, or the owner of the most successful social media site on planet Earth…or maybe something less complementary? However, It is easy to see that what Mark Zuckerberg has done with Facebook is genius, in fact I bet you wish you had thought of it first!

Following his latest manifesto we are now being invited to think of him as an instigator of global social equality! In his latest post he is talking about “ending terrorism, fighting climate change and preventing pandemics,” and it is difficult to be convinced that this can all be achieved through a social media site popularised for sharing your favourite meme with your significant other.

To underestimate the power of Facebook as just a communication tool, however, would be a mistake. Throughout his mainfesto, called “Building Global Community“, Zuckerberg makes a point of noting that Facebook does not claim to be able to facilitate social changes on its own; it can only provide a platform for this ‘global community’ to grow. However, this leads to the question of what exactly the ‘global community’ is and how can it work for all of us? Well, Zuckerberg breaks this down into five sections; supportive community, safe community, informed community, civically-engaged community and inclusive community. In an age of increased globalisation could the ideas outlined but Zuckerberg in this manifesto help the creative community flourish?

In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.

The essay was around 6000 words long (I had to read it in two sittings…does that say more about me or Zuckerberg?) and it must be said the Facebook CEO did appear to have pretty good ideas. He wants to build a community that allows for the freedom to be together, a place where individuals can feel safe and supported by other like-minded people. For the creative community this could be nothing but good news. If Zuckerberg is successful in achieving his aspirations then, perhaps, the creative community will have an improved space to share ideas and network, possibly improving real life relationships and creating opportunities.

However, Zuckerberg appears to have put forward a few contrasting ideas. Can we have

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Can we all agree on Facebook?

communities that are informed, inclusive and civically-engaged all at the same time? Humans have opposing beliefs, we cannot simply all agree on something and we do not all have the same interests, and this causes disagreements. Therefore, it can be argued that not everyone will be informed and inclusive. For example, the controversy surrounding the iconic Vietnam war photograph named the ‘Napalm Girl‘ where Facebook walked the tight rope between those who saw this as an important historical photograph, and those who were simply offended at the sight of a naked child. It may be difficult for Zuckerberg to create a unified ‘global community’ with such divided opinions on important issues, as seen on Facebook at the time of the Trump vs. Clinton election.

Today Facebook is an important tool for communication, it is difficult to think of someone who is not using it; in fact I’m guessing it’s one of the first things you look at when you wake up. Although ignoring Facebook all together when it comes to social issues would be a great waste of potential, it is difficult to visualise Facebook as an entity that will be used more for social change than it is for sharing that funny cat video you found or pictures of your grandkids on their first day of school. However, it is important not to underestimate the influence of Facebook.

Mr Zuckerberg, however, should also be aware of the tendency to rage against the man when people think he’s getting too big for his boots.

Amy x