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The Interface - Issue #10

Are political ads the problem — or is the problem Facebook itself? A growing number of commentators t
October 20 · Issue #10 · View online
The Interface
Are political ads the problem — or is the problem Facebook itself? A growing number of commentators this week tried to shift attention from Facebook’s ad platform — which now faces the threat a new regulatory regime, in the form of the Honest Ads Act — to the way posts spread organically on its platform.
Writing in New York, Brian Feldman points out that whatever regulations are ultimately imposed on Facebook’s political ads, the basic nature of the platform is likely to remain unchanged:
And what’s dangerous isn’t just that false stories and conspiracy theories can travel up what Benkler calls the “attention backbone” of social media. In disclosing the Russian ads, Facebook stated plainly that it viewed the ability to communicate across borders as a strength of the system, not a liability. It’s the corrosive effect of these “inauthentic” accounts — which Facebook has no easy way of dealing with — and the attention economy that gives Trump a freebie campaign. There is a growing tendency for people to label anyone they don’t agree with online as a bot. A few months ago, an enterprising college student retweeted by Trump was accused of not existing simply because her profile picture was of a stock photo (raise your hand if you’ve ever used an avatar that wasn’t actually your own face). During the campaign, American trolls tried to suppress the vote by creating fake promotional images telling Clinton supporters that they could vote by text. They didn’t need to set up a Facebook campaign. They were able to spread them around the internet at no cost.
Political advertising has justifiably gotten the most attention in the wake of revelations that Kremlin-backed groups used Facebook, Google, and other platforms in an effort to sway the election. And some of the next steps are obvious — Facebook has even offered to make some changes voluntarily, such as making ads available for public inspection.
But restricting the spread of fake vote-by-text memes is a far more vexing problem. And while the company is exploring ways to restrict the spread of hoaxes, it may prove to be even more vexing than the challenges around Facebook’s advertising platform.
Anyway, have a great weekend!

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And finally
LinkedIn May Consider Developing Original Programming
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