The fork in the road for social media and our society


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Christchurch social media
The horror from Christchurch, New Zealand, that exploded across newspaper pages and television, computer and smartphone screens this weekend captured imaginations in ways that no one could possibly have imagined beforehand. The fact that one individual armed with a semi-automatic rifle could visit such an outrage upon people worshipping in a place of religion isn’t the worst of it, awful and distressing though this event is with at least 50 people shot dead and scores wounded, some in critical condition. After all, we’re used to seeing and hearing about such mass shootings in America all the time. And it’s not because it happened in a country like New Zealand, a place many call a paradise on Earth. A place of rich beauty and a largely unspoiled natural environment. A place many of us in the UK see as made up of kinfolk, people with historic links to us, today
Facebook video
Mass murder for the Internet
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SDF Podcast 26: To regulate, or not to regulate, that is the question…


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“We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.“ So the famous US Supreme Court Justice and ‘crusader for social justice’ and breaker-upper of Gilded Age monopolies, Louis D. Brandeis is said to have said, perhaps sometime in the early 1930s. Today, perhaps the best-known neo-Brandeisian anti-trust advocate is Tim Wu, Columbia law professor, ‘father of net neutrality’ and author of a series of books likening today’s commercial excesses – in particular in the digital space – to the ‘Gilded Age’ of the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Of course, it is not really an either-or debate. It’s a complex and convoluted, tangled web of interests and angles, and any claimant of simple solutions has likely got a degree from snake oil university. Neville discusses an article in The
GDPR
Facebook
Shoshana Zuboff’s thesis of surveillance capitalism
Led by Donkeys
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 172: The double-edged sword of a Facebook meme


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Suspicion about the consequences and outcomes of the #10YearChallenge meme on Facebook kicked off discussion in the January episode of “The Hobson & Holtz Report”, aka FIR podcast episode 172. Is it just a harmless meme? Or is it a surveillance nightmare? Shel and Neville weight in. Here’s the line-up of all the topics that caught our attention and prompted lively conversation in this episode:
  • Lost trust in Facebook led to wariness about a user-generated meme.
  • Adobe is bringing part of “Minority Report” to life.
  • The Internet of Things was everywhere at CES.
  • A picture of an egg is the most viewed Instagram post ever. What does that bode for influencer marketing?
  • Picture what Google will look like if the EU implements Article 11 of the Copyright Directive.
  • Brands are weighing in on the U.S. government shutdown.
  • Dan York reports on the web’s growing complexity, Jeff Jarvis’s Facebook screed,
    FIR 172
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For Immediate Release 168: The Facebook dilemma


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Neville Hobson joins Shel Holtz for the December installment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report.” The stories Neville and Shel covered include…
  • The passing of PR fixture Jack O’Dwyer
  • Marketers are turning their attention to messaging apps
  • Not everyone is free to leave Facebook, even if they want to
  • The death of keywords (or is it?) as audiences become key to targeting in search
  • Rising Instagram stars post fake sponsored posts to get brands’ attention
  • What we learned about GDPR in 2018
  • Research reveals how journalists can rebuild trust in media; could it work in business?
  • Dan York reports on the Quora data breach, rural connectivity, free (for now) LinkedIn Learning courses, more on Facebook’s woes, Slack banning users with links to Iran, and a new podcast all-in-one mixing desk.
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. Links from this month’s episode:

SDF Podcast 24: Reading the runes for 2019


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The SmallDataForum celebrated its third Christmas with a highly calorific and somewhat alcoholic Italian lunch, followed by post-prandial musings about high- and low-lights of 2018, and some crystal ball gazing for 2019. Our regular followers / listeners – or just about anybody with any interest in tech and communication – won’t be surprised by a list being topped by Facebook, and then some more Facebook. Followed by GDPR and other regulatory activities, mainly by the EU. And of course we also touched on the topic that’s been with us from episode one, when it was called Brexit. These days, Brexitexit is beginning to sound more fitting. In his analysis of FB’s / MZ’s predicament, Sam combined review and preview. He sees FB’s annus horribilis as the beginning of the end for the meaningful global connector. At the time of the 2019 SDF Christmas lunch, he expects FB’s chief apologist to
Thomas Stoeckle
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SDF Podcast 23: Pretty crazy ideas about the Facebook


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Facebook “The ever-present function of propaganda in modern life is in large measure attributable to the social disorganization which has been precipitated by the rapid advent of technological changes.” This is not the latest comment on the perpetual missteps, mishaps and misuse of Facebook, but a quote from Harold D. Lasswell, eminent media scholar and creator of the eponymous and never-aging model and formula to determine media effects: who says what to whom in which channel with what effect? Who said what to whom, and subsequent effects – that was also the theme of a multi-thousand-word investigative piece on Facebook and its executive team in the New York Times on 15th November. By now, I’m sure anybody with even the remotest interest in the SmallDataForum canon of themes will be familiar with the story and the fall-out: basically, Facebook got burned by burning all sorts of lobbying,
Ruins
Thumbs down
Screwed up
Thomas Stoeckle
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SDF Podcast 21: Attention, meaningful content and post-apocalyptic novels


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monitor Our latest podcast ended up being a tad longer than planned – clearly a sign of a lively, engaged discussion. In talking about various aspects of the attention economy, we managed to hold each other’s attention for a good 45 minutes. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Many ‘attention economists’ these days quote Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and his observation that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. It is certainly a quote that has aged well, and one can only wonder what Simon would make of the world now, 47 years on from his famous statement. Sam doesn’t quite see the crisis of attention that brands often lament. But quality and controllability matter more than ever, and producers of content – especially the advertising and media industries – need to up their game to stay relevant. Users control their online experience through ad blockers
WTF
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 152: LOL (TM)


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Febreze Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the August edition of The Hobson and Holtz Report on the FIR Podcast Network. Topics included…
  • P&G is attempting to trademark common Internet acronyms, including LOL.
  • Texting has become a common tool in political campaigns. Will it find its way into marketing?
  • Gen Zers will outnumber Millennials within a year. There are implications for communicators.
  • Should your company be on IGTV?
  • A look at vanished technologies from Gartner’s 2017 hypecycle of emerging technologies.
  • Engagement on Facebook is plummeting.
Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

(Or download the MP3 file) Links from this episode:

SDF Podcast 20: GDPR, ePrivacy, copyright and antitrust: the EU’s long game


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Show notes for this episode written by Thomas Stoeckle. “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A modern version of this 18th century thought experiment by the philosopher and cleric George Berkeley might read: “If the EU fines a big tech firm billions of dollars, and no one has the power to enforce it, has it actually happened?” A recent opinion piece on AdExchanger discussed the connection between Google’s $5bn antitrust fine, and the enforcement of fines for GDPR non-compliance. Europe is committed to taking a stand against corporations when it comes to privacy rights of consumers, intellectual property rights of content producers (although the planned law is controversial), and anti-competitive market positions. But there is potential tension between the goal of harmonizing privacy law across EU member states, and implementation and
Thomas Stoeckle
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For Immediate Release 147: Tell Me a (Facebook) Story


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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the July edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:
  • Starbucks and plastic straws (listener comment from Kris Gallagher)
  • British Airways asks customers to post personal data on Twitter ‘to comply with GDPR’
  • Will Facebook Stories (and Instagram Stories, Messenger Stories, WhatsApp Stories, and Snapchat Stories) change how marketers use social media?
  • Whatever the EU does about copyright laws, expect it to change social media globally
  • Chatrooms come out of closed beta at Reddit
  • Facebook has suspended Crimson Hexagon from accessing data while it investigates how that data is being used
  • New buyers of smart speakers want to reduce the amount of time they spend looking at screens
Also, Gini Dietrich shares her thoughts on companies shrugging off the “E” in the PESO model she helped develop, Dan York has his Tech Report, and more. Special thanks to 
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Twitter removes fake followers to build trust in follower counts


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Twitter profile If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in the number of people following you on Twitter, the likeliest reason would be action taken by Twitter last week as part of its efforts to build trust and confidence in follower counts – the number of people who follow others on the social network. In an announcement posted on July 11, Twitter said it had begun a global action to remove suspicious accounts from users’ followers, describing it as a step to improve Twitter and ensure everyone can have confidence in their followers.
As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down. Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop. We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.
Before and After
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For Immediate Release 143: Fired by mistake by an AI


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Neville Hobson joined FIR host Shel Holtz for the June edition of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” and conversation about these topics:
  • An employee was mistakenly fired by an AI system and managers stood by powerless to correct the mistake. Was AI really to blame?
  • IBM has introduced an AI designed for debate, which could mean there’s finally an unbiased devil’s advocate to point out the flaws in your business plan.
  • There is no minimizing the threat to the Internet posed by the draconian copyright restrictions the European Parliament could vote into law as early as the first week of July.
  • A couple of PRSA members are proposing an overhaul of ethics rules to make sure they apply to the group’s executive board (and making their case hasn’t been easy).
  • The World Cup is using a Video Assisted Referee, which would have applications far beyond sports.
  • Facebook is testing paid monthly
    FIR 143 The Hobson & Holtz Report
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SDF Podcast 19: Is GDPR much ado about nothing?


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GDPR Ten days after the EU General Data Protection Regulation came into action, the SmallDataForum convened to provide initial assessments and perspectives. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Are we witnessing comedy or drama? Much ado about nothing or the end of the world as we know it? Clearly it is much too early to tell, and yet (of course) we found a lot to discuss, from varying levels of preparedness (not just on businesses’ side, but also among governments, regulators etc), to impacts on the data-driven digital advertising business, to the next level of EU rule regarding electronic communication, the so-called ePrivacy Regulation. Among the early legal cases, the most prominent so far is Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems’s challenge of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (reported by the Irish Times). Sam points out that Schrems, the man behind the None of Your Business website (www.
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SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust


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Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply. The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in the depths of despair, Neville HobsonThomas Stoeckle, and I end up hoping that the asteroid NASA predicts is hurtling towards earth can be diverted from its nihilistic path. This episode’s show notes were written by Sam Knowles. We kick off considering the implications of Google recently losing a landmark “right to be forgotten” case in the UK courts. For me, the case says more about national (courts) and supranational (the EU) organisations looking to flex – and being seen to flex – their regulatory and legislative muscles in the face of the
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For Immediate Release 134: We start with Starbucks and end with drones


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In this April edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talk about…
  • Starbucks’ response to a racial incident in Philadelphia that went viral and sparked protests
  • In an effort to reduce “noise pollution,” Ghana wants Muslims to issue the call to prayer via WhatsApp
  • The line between earned and paid media is blurring and consumers don’t care which is which
  • There’s a reckoning coming for terms and conditions
  • Augmented Reality is making huge inroads (except in corporate communications)
  • Journalists in developing countries are using drones and sensors to cover environmental crimes and pollution
In his Tech Report, Dan York reports on what he found when he downloaded his Facebook data, Jordan Peel’s deepfake PSA from Barack Obama, why Chrome’s article recommendation feature could drive huge traffic to publishers, Flickr has been acquired by SmugMug (which plans to revitalize the photo service), and Mozilla has issued a call
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Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms


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This week has been an extraordinary one, not only for Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and members of the US Congress but also for users of Facebook and other social networking platforms wherever they are in the world. Indeed, it has been a week of revelation and food for considerable thought on a grand scale. During two days, on April 10 and April 11, the Facebook co-founder and CEO appeared before members of the US Senate and Congress to answer questions about Facebook and how it handles the personal information of its users. These appearances follow news headlines for weeks about the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica data scandal and undercover reporting-driven disclosures about grave misuse of the personal data of millions of users. Each session was around five hours; both were broadcast live on television and myriad social media channels, reaching a truly global audience. You can read transcripts of each session (
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Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms


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This week has been an extraordinary one, not only for Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and members of the US Congress but also for users of Facebook and other social networking platforms wherever they are in the world. Indeed, it has been a week of revelation and food for considerable thought on a grand scale. During two days, on April 10 and April 11, the Facebook co-founder and CEO appeared before members of the US Senate and Congress to answer questions about Facebook and how it handles the personal information of its users. These appearances follow news headlines for weeks about the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica data scandal and undercover reporting-driven disclosures about grave misuse of the personal data of millions of users. Each session was around five hours; both were broadcast live on television and myriad social media channels, reaching a truly global audience. You can read transcripts of each session (
Continue reading "Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms"

SDF Podcast 17 – “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it”

The SmallDataForum convened in late March, and as for our big story, we had several candidates and angles on the same theme of the use and abuse of data.

This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle.

Sam is now a newly published author of a book about how to tell powerful and purposeful stories with data, Narrative by Numbers. A very timely (and equally timeless) topic and title.

A recently published study in Science about the velocity and spread of true and false news online caught our attention. Tina McCorkindale, CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, did a great analysis with key takeaways for communicators.

Discussing the study, Sam referred to Jonathan Swift’s famous quote from 1710 in The Art of Political Lying that “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is

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SDF Podcast 17 – “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it”


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The SmallDataForum convened in late March, and as for our big story, we had several candidates and angles on the same theme of the use and abuse of data. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Sam is now a newly published author of a book about how to tell powerful and purposeful stories with data, Narrative by Numbers. A very timely (and equally timeless) topic and title. A recently published study in Science about the velocity and spread of true and false news online caught our attention. Tina McCorkindale, CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, did a great analysis with key takeaways for communicators. Discussing the study, Sam referred to Jonathan Swift’s famous quote from 1710 in The Art of Political Lying that “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is
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For Immediate Release 130: Facebook’s Moments of Truth


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Facebook In this monthly episode of The Hobson & Holtz Report aka FIR 130, the major discussion surrounded Facebook and the growing crisis embroiling the social network over alleged misuse of data about users and their friends by the political consultancy and data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Shel and I offered a plethora of opinion and considered some of the elements of this kerfuffle from a communicator’s perspective. Other stories that made the discussion list in this episode included how Twitter now does not allow you to post identical tweets via multiple Twitter accounts; how Millennials are more prone to punish brands for scandals; Coca-Cola and the US State Department are to use blockchain to combat forced labour; Sierra Leone just ran the first blockchain-based general election; and more including Dan York’s Tech Report. Full Run List: