Facebook changes algorithms to Defeat Click Bait; Will suppress Publisher posts with links too

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Facebook recently announced that it is taking on “Click-Bait” content shared on its site. Those are articles shared with scandalous, inflammatory and other salacious titles written to entice a reader to click the link.  Only, soon after, the reader discovers it wasn’t what he or she anticipated the piece would be about based on the headline.

Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed,” Facebook wrote in a post. 

The social network site plans to take note of the amount of time readers spend on these articles, keep track of which articles are not read for along time. Then, Facebook’s algorithm will begin to suppress those articles that show readers spent less time on them as its fancy machines would identify them to likely be click-bait.

Sites like Buzzfeed, UpWorthy and the like that are notorious for “Click-Bait” headlines will have to worry, maybe.

It also announced in the same post that it will encourage publishers to simply post their article on their page from a service or directly, but without doing what a lot of people do now: post a “see more” text with a link that is placed in the caption of the photo.

Publishers that use the latter will see their posts suppressed from Facebook users’ news feeds, and from the feeds of people who have “liked” their page.

DON’T DO THIS: leave the hyperlink in the caption to the photo after it uploads onto your page, DELETE the hyperlink.

culinarian-newDO THIS: (DELETE THE LINK after the article attaches with the image)

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TMobile, Sprint offer $12 No-Data Cap Music Streaming; Social Media Only Plans

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Just the other day while doing my budget, I was lamenting with a family member on how I would love it if all utilities came with a la carte options and pricing. It really hurts the pocketbook to have to shell out exorbitant monthly expenditures to pay for a full menu of services when I only use a few. This is the case especially with my cable bill.

The computer retail market seemingly has resolved that problem.  Prices have dropped because consumers can opt out of purchasing the souped up machines already pre-loaded with expensive software they won’t use and instead by a basic machine and install what they need. That way, they also maximize storage space and have a quicker and more efficient running system.

Mobile phone customers got a relief recently when Sprint and T-Mobile offered new price plans that save customers from going over their data allotment monthly.

I could relate because when my husband first got his smartphone a few years back, and we switched to a shared minutes plan, we used to bump up on our allocation all the time until we learned how to manage our bandwidth.

These new packages could also solve that problem considering we both use our smartphones for checking email, streaming music and accessing social media sites mostly.

With Sprint’s, for $12, subscribers can get a plan that connects just to FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, for an additional $10 more. They can do all the surfing, uploading, pinning they want and stream unlimited music from any app they choice for just $5!

Perfect for long runs outside or at the gym or work commutes on public transportation.

T-Mobile offers a similar plan that caters to the way some users consume info and data on their smartphone.  It lets customers listen to some of the most popular music services without it eating up their data.

Both these new options are clearly a reaction to competitors like Boost Mobile and Clear Wireless. Both companies burst on the wireless scene not too long ago and immediately gained popularity with their no-contract, pay as you go options, especially among customers who could not qualify for pre-paid plans or did not have the budget to manage mega bills with those plans.

For both, data usage charges do not apply when subscribers access sites covered by the plans.

There’s nothing like watching your customers walk off to a new carrier to cause you to think creatively. To no surprise, some of the net neutrality advocates managed to find fault in increased consumer choice and flexibility, pointing out how these new options permit ISPs to pick winners and losers among services and to discriminate against some.

Never mind that the consumer still ultimately has the option of picking the comprehensive plan and going with one of many plans that all ready exist. The new options do not take away existing options, just add on. Color me confused.

Consumer choice when users get to pay for what they consume most is a good thing for some people, not all but some.

Am I missing something here?

These options will be perfect for those on limited budgets like students, new wireless broadband users, the elderly and some low-income wireless phone users. Sounds like a winner.

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42 Simple Ways to Improve Your Life

 

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We all talk a good game about wanting to be a better person, shed negativity, be more upbeat and to upgrade, change, improve our lot in life and generally enhance it, but the hardest part is taking the steps to get there.

It can be daunting but breaking it down into simple steps may do the trick.

Check out these 42 simple habits to make  yourself a better from LifeHack.

The first task is committing to pick at least one of these selections and sticking with it.

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What makes your Blog Content Shareable?

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Social signals like shares are crucial for any blog’s success as Google and other search engines greatly value real users’ engagement . You’ve crafted an amazing, conversational and valuable blog post, and now you are ready to let it into the world ….

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How #Ferguson is being Exploited and Weaved into Tech Policy Debates

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There is no doubt that Ferguson, Missouri and Mike Brown shooting death story has been a case study in Social Media and Tech news history.

Many credit social media activists and the social media hashtag #handsUpDontShoot for helping elevate the news item to national levels, as viral images of various individuals and groups circulated to further bring awareness to the situation and active protests. It is akin to what happened with with the Boston marathon Bombing, as dozens of citizen journalists tweeted their witness testimonies and live on-the-ground accounts of civil protests and unrest following the police killing of Brown, who was unarmed at the time.

Over the course of the past few weeks, and a few overzealous militarized overreactions, followed by several dozen arrests of investigative news, and photo journalists later, traditional and established news organizations have poured out numerous articles, think pieces, researched analysis, and stats about police brutality cases, the US criminal justice system and race relations. It has all been illuminating, as the world watched.

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The infamous hacker group Anonymous got involved early when it leaked the name of the police officer who fired 6 rounds of ammunition into the unarmed man a couple weeks ago.

Twitter has certainly played a strong role but there is a story unfolding now about how sites like Twitter may be empowered to suppress news items, like Ferguson.

We know Twitter, specifically, has the technical capability of suppressing the speed at which you can tweet.

Many of us who tweet often and in rapid-fire succession know, Twitter, for example has the power and ability to throttle your tweets and messages. Most of the time, being put in “Twitter Jail” happens because of an algorithmic process that mistakes your successive tweet as spam.

It’s seemingly innocuous, but, recently, some authors have analyzed and determined that Twitter has the power to suppress the actual content of a tweet and withhold speech if it determines the message being disseminated is too graphic, inappropriate, violates its terms of service or if it simply doesn’t like the message?

Yesterday and today, we’ve seen reports on how Twitter has  been suppressing images and videos of journalist James Foley’s beheading and stopping it from being  shared on the site.

Such suppression of content is causing some like David Holmes  of PandoDaily  to worry if the site will soon become an accidental censor. This would be the case if Twitter soon alters its algorithm to be more closely to Facebook’s as reported. If so, some may miss important stories like Ferguson as they develop if those they interact with the most aren’t also sharing the story.

In my Facebook world, I have some friends who share close to zero info and news about the evolving Ferguson case, while others only share it.

Currently, Facebook’s unique algorithm determines what news and posts get filtered into users feed, and it is based on what friends in their circles are sharing. Twitter is unlike that where all tweets, independent on their level of closeness to a person, filters through.

Others query whether mammoth Internet companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook could be purposeful censors as well

Interestingly enough, however, around the same time these pieces about Twitter, Facebook and Google’s power to censor came out, I noticed that my colleague who I have sat on news and media panels with on the radio and in social media, Dr. Jason Johnson penned a  HuffPo piece which  unfortunately links the tragedy in Ferguson to tech policy but in a totally unrelated manner. Johnson argues, in sum, that network neutrality is needed so that news about stories like what is going on in Ferguson can be heard and disseminated to the masses quickly via social media sites like Twitter.

And to no surprise, the folks at Free Press have linked Ferguson to Net Neutrality as well.

It is the modus operandi for an organization that should know about the dangerous impact that regulation of the free and open internet can have on investment in web-based start ups and businesses, but seemingly isn’t too concerned over it.

So I had to jump on here and pen my own response because, once again,  I see the nation’s historic civil rights organizations are being questioned on their decision to take a different policy position.

This is all going down whilst groups like NAACP are in the middle of rallying around this young man’s loss of life, educating the masses in Ferguson on their voting obligations and rights and getting the people of that town geared up to be prepared to be more active and civically engaged in their local government.

You see,  Ferguson has an apathy in voting problem. Two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black, but blacks are severely underrepresented in Ferguson’s city government and school board. The mayor is white, as are five of six City Council members.  Six of seven school board members are white.

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So NAACP’s focus, I’ve noticed, has been on increasing civic participation, yet we see these guys are over yanking their pants hems for the sole purpose of bringing Net Neutrality into the picture.

In doing so, they are shamefully exploiting a controversial killing, which has inflamed passions, incited daily and nightly protests, violence, and ignited explosive conversations about the criminal justice system, involving local, state, and finally the FBI and US Department of Justice.

Johnson’s thesis is without Net Neutrality, America would never know anything about Ferguson.

Really?  But guess what? Without network neutrality, we did and do! Thank you Open and Free Internet!

What we have CURRENTLY, is status quo and is WORKING!

Hands off the internet, please!

What we have now is an opportunity where content and messages flow fluidly, 24 hours a day, and seemingly quite smoothly, as is.

There has been no breakdown from ISPs, or any of the various companies and counterparts that make up the network of fiber and communication which facilitate the free and open internet.

In fact, Johnson’s and Free Press’ rants are void of cases of a breakdown as a cause of some absence of regulatory oversight and intervention.

Nope, instead, Johnson leads his readers down a dark hole of hypothetical scenarios and “what ifs”.

I guess that’s what you have to do when you have a solution where there is no problem.

You have to invent them.

See what they did there? Create imaginary scenarios.

But alas, it is a tried and old tactic of generating unfounded and unsubstantiated fear mongering in order to get people over to their side of a wonky tech policy matter that has nothing to do with Ferguson, dead black men and an inequitable justice system.

The pro-net neutrality crowd has done it before last round about 4 years ago when the issue was ice hot.  And since then, the Internet has continued to run—Sans any heavy-handed regulatory oversight  and regulation, which has the real and possible potential to deter Angel and Venture Capitalist from funding web-based startups.

And to be clear— all regulation isn’t bad —so long it is for consumer protection and is certainly needed to ensure there is no market failure or breakdown where the interest of the public will be severely compromised.  Today, the FCC, thankfully, has such a tool to deal with these scenarios in Section 706 of the Telecom Act.

But by all means, we should not be experimenting with a good thing by creating spanking new government overreaching regulations to quell a litany of hypothetical problems that “could” arise.

Meanwhile, web and Internet-based Businesses have continued to prosper.

In fact, Buzzfeed just got another $50 Million in funding from investors towards its web-based digital publishing platform.

I say that is a win for Open Internet!

photos: Getty/NBC news

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Teen boy jailed for Instagramming local teen girls nude pics

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If your teen boy posts on social media a semi-nude, nude or other explicit image of a teen girl she or someone else texted him, he could land in jail for sharing child pornography…just like a Maryland boy this week.

The Anne Arundel County Child Abuse Unit charged a 17-year old boy for posting on Instagram  photos that “mainly depicted juvenile females posing nude or engaging in sexual activity,” a statement from the police stated.

Police received in March 2014 a tip about the images which referred to the name of different Anne Arundel County high schools.

Detectives researching the incident said the girls or another person took the consensual  photos.

This is a trend where law enforcement is using crime shared on social media to investigate and arrest perpetrators.  Criminals are brazenly advertising their bad acts or, in this case, may not be aware of what they are doing is a crime, in addition to being unethical.

Here too, the arrest and charge sends a message to boys and girls that their wanton and reckless sharing in social media has consequences.

Also, parents of girls (and boys) need to alert them of the importance of not taking sexually explicit images of themselves and sexting.

If you see explicit images of young children and teens in social media, report it to  Instagram’s Help Center at help.instagram.com and to the Cyber Tip Line of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at http://www.cybertipline.com.

 

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Meet VentureBeat’s #GrowthBeat 2014 Winners

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San Francisco Tech For businesses and end users alike, big data can be a bit of a mystery. More specifically what to do with big data is a bit of a mystery. Like a Cheesecake Factory menu (no really, check it out ), there are just too many data…

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Tech Community gives back via Civic and Community Hack-A-thons

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Since this blog first launched in 2010, I have blogged about the intersection of technology and politics with a heavy focus on laws, policies and practices that impact underserved, unserved and other markets and communities that have a lesser presence in the tech space. 
Throughout, I’ve had an interest in bridging the opportunity gaps and expanding access to the resources and the knowledge base of underrepresented communities and those that inhabit those spaces.  Recently, I renewed my interest in policies that stifle investment in the online digital space, an ecosystem which is open, free and  has one of the lowest barrier to entries for women and people of color.
But then it got bumpy when I jumped to defend a non-profit media opportunity access organization that I am on the board of, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. I was told that some progressive and left of center bloggers, disgruntled that orgs, others and myself did not support their position on Network Neutrality, were launching personal attacks on us all. 
It was upsetting because in my mind of minds, I was and am wary of issue trolls.
My rallying cry has always been that groups and people who do not show solidarity or support for enterprising, rising and emerging domestic communities cannot be trusted.
The point being that critics who are not ordinarily around to help alter the startling statistics of the underrepresented have less of a right to jump in and start telling those of us working on these issues what we should be doing, and certainly not calling us names like trolls and sell outs simply for taking an opposite position.
In my minds eye, I thought only those who were and have been expressing a vested interest in broadband adoption, and bridging the opportunity and knowledge gap have a place to speak up and out on the communities that these groups serve. 
From my experience whenever diversity in tech comes up, there are a cadre of white and Asian men who speak up to scream that women and minorities aren’t qualified, don’t get Computer Science or other STEM degrees and therefore, should not expect to be included. There is a failure to recognize that tech companies need more than just programmers and coders to work at their start ups; and that there are “talented and qualified” men and women of color who graduate with STEM degrees each year, at least from HBCUs at least, yet they aren’t hired. 
Like in many industries,  a culture of exclusion is cultivated when employers and start ups hire, advance, include and accept only those who are already “in” and have a personal connection or other link to intimate power circles.  
Also, the onus is on the outsiders to force their way in and to disrupt the comfort zone of those who are already in. It’s a very high hurdle to climb and many may see it and not even bother. 
Indeed, it’s complex. The tech community didn’t seem accepting of doing its part to change, I thought. 
I was not aware of much effort. 
However, this week, I started to notice and pay attention to some of the really good community and outreach events that a local Washington DC, tech incubator community, 1776, has put on. 
It hosted its development agency, Ghost Note‘s event to promote the DC African  American tech industry, another recent event partnered with a group promoting African coders encouraging investment on the Continent and it will also soon host Capitol One’s Technology team’s community hack-a-thon to assist local charities to upgrade their website and services to better serve their constituencies. 
A quick Web search revealed that several other tech communities, groups, organizations, companies and colleges too have been using their knowledge for community and global good.
For example, Maryland’s Goucher College hosts a community hackathon too that brings together citizens, software developers, scholars, entrepreneurs, designers, and other creative thinkers to come together to build community solutions. The teams used one weekend to build projects from technology, sustainability, and regional cultural spaces 
Iowa – In Des Moines, a group called dsmHack organized a 48-hour charity hackathon that paired nonprofits in need of upgrades and apps with over 80 computer programmers, developers, project managers and designers who, after 48 hours, delivered the projects to the 18 nonprofits who before had pitched their needs and broken up in teams with the developers.
Colorado - Code for Communities organizes developers, designers, data geeks, leaders, and idea-makers who volunteer to help Denver regional government and civic orgs adopt open web technologies.
Philadelphia, MarylandWeb Slam connects together local technology leaders and urban high school students to learn how to write code while building projects for area non-profits. It has organized events in urban communities in Baltimore and its next one is in Philadelphia.
San Francisco- Creative Currency gathers “leading developers and designers with national experts in social finance, local currencies, crowdfunding, sharing platforms, and other leaders of the new economy” to come up with policy solutions to address”

 pressing questions, such as: How can financial data empower low-income residents? How can local currencies support local businesses and community organizations? How can sharing platforms be tailored to fit the needs of under-served communities? How can tools like crowdfunding and microcredit be put to work for social service organizations and individuals alike?”

Code for America helps other communities organize civic and community hack-a-thons, noting that the success of previous such events show that the model cna easily be replicated in other cities.

This showing of solidarity, giving-back, citizenship is welcomed and reflects an interest in the tech community to  make the nation more competitive for all, not just the privileged and connected few.
It is quite refreshing. 
Very refreshing! 

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New Unlocking phones law allows you to take your wireless phone to any carrier

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If you need me, I’ll be gathering all the various out-of-contract devices I have around the house and schlepping to the nearest carrier that offers the best price!

Hallelujah! The House and Senate in Congress agreed to pass the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act recently which requires that the Library of Congress allow mobile phone owners to unlock their devices. President Obama signed the law yesterday which stops carriers from forcing users to stay with them because the phones were only useful on their networks.

It was a long time coming, but the law was spurred on by Sina Khanifar who got 114,000 petition signatures on Whitehouse.gov from users.  The support meant the White House had to react.

The unlocking restrictions are compliments of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which was designed to protect the intellectual property of creatives and inventors, but has been wrought with unintended consequences that harm consumers and digital entrepreneurs.

Before the Act passed, consumers who unlocked their phones faced criminal prosecution.

Some say the measure is a good step but Congress really needs to take a second look at resolving all of the new problems DMCA is creating for consumers.

The downside is that criminals in the business of selling stolen phones just got a market of new phones to work with, like Verizon‘s, for example.  Many of that company’s phones operate on a proprietary CDMA standard that only works only on the Verizon network.

But the upside is more options, flexibility and freedom for consumers.  I foresee many many more options on eBay in the future too.

Carriers will have to elevate their customer service, network and offerings now that they know their customers have less incentive to stick with them. They no longer have to purchase an entirely new device just to switch carriers.

My kid has a Sprint phone that I would love to hook up to the family’s Verizon plan, except, before this law, we couldn’t unlock it and carry it over…now we can and it saves me the cost of getting a new phone that works on the Verizon network only.

Wireless carriers may at first be bummed because they lose a hook they’ve always had to deter consumers from switching carriers after a contract was up, but eventually, they may start to appreciate the new disgruntled customers coming over from their competitors.

They complained about number portability and fought it tooth and nail, but they adjusted, got over it and are still in business.  All good!

 

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