👓 Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How | Gizmodo

Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won't Tell Me How by Kashmir Hill (Gizmodo)
Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me.
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👓 Reply rate of the top 10 journalists on Twitter | Matt Maldre

Reply rate of the top 10 journalists on Twitter by Matt Maldre (mattmaldre.com)
Barkha Dutt of the Washington Post is the most-engaged top journalist on Twitter. 64% of the reporter’s tweets are at-replies. That’s how to use Twitter–as an engagement platform, not a broadcast platform. How do the other most-followed journalists on Twitter rate with their response level? Poynter published a list of the the most-followed journalists on Twitter:

This article has some interesting data, but I’m not sure that the emphasis on the value of replies is necessarily the correct one. Journalists have a specific job and work in specific media, so I don’t think necessarily that their reply rate on Twitter is something that should be gamified this way. First one should look at what the individual’s needs, wants, and aims are for using the platform. Also, are these “corporate” accounts or “personal” accounts? The distinction here can make all the difference.

Other useful questions to ask:
Are they using the platform as a tool to do their work? Are they using it simply for PR? What other avenues do they use to reach their viewers? Are they using it to disseminate actual news? Does their beat dictate specific needs for Twitter? (Tech journalists may be more heavy Twitter users, for example.)

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👓 Show authors more ❤️ with 👏’s | Medium

Introducing Claps, a new way to react on Medium by Katie Zhu (Medium)
Rolling out to Medium users over the coming week will be a new, more satisfying way for readers to give feedback to writers. We call it “Claps.” It’s no longer simply whether you like, or don’t like, something. Now you can give variable levels of applause to a story. Maybe clap once, or maybe 10 or 20 times. You’re in control and can clap to your heart’s desire.

Yet another way to “like” a post….

This reminds me a lot of Path’s pivot to stickers. We all know how relevant it has made them since.

And all this just after Netflix, the company that has probably done more research on ranking than any other, has gone from a multi-star intent to a thumbs up/thumbs down in the past month.

Most of the measurements social media and other companies are really trying to make are signal to noise ratios as well as creating some semblance of dynamic range. A simple thumbs up creates almost no dynamic range compared to thumbs up/nothing/thumbs-down. Major platforms drive enough traffic that the SNR all comes out in the wash. Without the negative intent (dis-like, thumbs down, etc.) we’re missing out on some important data. It’s almost reminiscent to the science community only publishing their positive results and not the negative results. As a result scientific research is losing a tremendous amount of value.

We need to be more careful what we’re doing and why…

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👓 More on My LinkedIn Account | Schneier on Security

More on My LinkedIn Account by Bruce Schneier (Schneier on Security)
I have successfully gotten the fake LinkedIn account in my name deleted. To prevent someone from doing this again, I signed up for LinkedIn. This is my first -- and only -- post on that account. Now I hear that LinkedIn is e-mailing people on my behalf, suggesting that they friend, follow, connect, or whatever they do there with me. I assure you that I have nothing to do with any of those e-mails, nor do I care what anyone does in response.

More than any other network, I’ve been hearing more and more people quitting LinkedIn for security and other reasons.

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👓 Mastodon is big in Japan. The reason why is… uncomfortable by Ethan Zuckerman

Mastodon is big in Japan. The reason why is… uncomfortable by Ethan Zuckerman (My heart’s in Accra)
Most distributed publishing tools are simply too complex for most users to adopt. Mastodon may have overcome that problem, borrowing design ideas from a successful commercial product. But the example of lolicon may challenge our theories in two directions. One, if you’re unable to share content on the sites you’re used to using – Twitter, in this case – you may be more willing to adopt a new tool, even if its interface is initially unfamiliar. Second, an additional barrier to adoption for decentralized publishing may be that its first large userbase is a population that cannot use centralized social networks. Any stigma associated with this community may make it harder for users with other interests to adopt these new tools.

Like many others, I can see many more and stronger reasons for a decentralized web than not. This article takes a look at a little bit of the downside of the model. (Though to be honest, I think the downside for this is even bigger in the siloed model.) Naturally the long term effects are far more complex than described here, but this is also very interesting during a week when there’s a continuing resurgence of neo-Nazis, the alt-right, and other white supremacists in America as well as a growing list of major companies that aren’t allowing them a safe harbor.

The US Government subpoena to DreamHost this week for visitors of an anti-Trump website and backbone internet companies like CloudFlare kicking off “The Daily Stormer” are particularly intriguing in the larger ecosystem as well.

I think there’s a lot here that’s both interesting to the IndieWeb community and from which we can all learn.

As I’m thinking about it, I wonder a bit what happens to the role of “community manager” in a larger decentralized and independent web? I hope it’s tummelers like Tantek Çelik, Kevin Marks, Jeremy Keith, Martijn van der Ven and others who continue to blaze the trail.

Mastodon is big in Japan

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👓 Pivot time: searching for an Open Web blogging model | AltPlatform

Pivot time: searching for an Open Web blogging model by Richard MacManus (AltPlatform)
We launched this blog less than three months ago to explore the latest in Open Web technologies. Things like the IndieWeb movement, blockchain apps, API platforms, Open AI, and more. AltPlatform has always been an experiment, as I made clear in our introductory post. However, from a publishing point of view the experiment hasn’t worked out as we had hoped. To put it plainly, the page views haven’t eventuated – at least in a sustained way. So it’s time to try something new. We’re going to pivot into something a bit different…soon.

I’m a bit saddened by this, but it’s always fun to try out new things. Can’t wait to see what comes next.

I love ricmac’s conceptualization of blogging and hope it comes back the way he–and I–envision it.

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👓 Phở Networks, an experiment to create a singularist & truly scalable social platform | AltPlatform

Phở Networks, an experiment to create a singularist & truly scalable social platform by Emre Sokullu (AltPlatform)
An open source, MIT licensed project that I’ve been personally spending a lot of time on, for almost a year. – In a nutshell, Phở Networks lets you create independent social media outlets. – Phở Networks is singularist; because it allows you to create any form of social media, with a simple language that many sysadmins have already familiarized themselves with in the UNIX world; ACL — access-control lists. You may use Phở Networks as your blogging engine, but you can also create a whole new Facebook. Need proof? Just visit the pho-recipes Github repo. – Phở Networks is lightning fast and massively scalable, because it takes an unorthodox approach as to how it handles data. With Phở, data is stored and served warm right off the RAM, as it is built on top of Redis. With this unconventional RAM-first design choice (in contrast to caching, which most high-scale web sites have opted into), Phở Networks won’t be cheap (for now), but it will be blazing-fast and super low-maintenance by avoiding the limitations of sharding and hard-drive friction.

I’d heard of this a while back, but never spent much time on it. Perhaps it’s time to delve in a bit to play around?

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👓 Change Your Crappy Twitter Handle Without Losing Followers | Wired

Change Your Crappy Twitter Handle Without Losing Followers by Liana Bandziulis (Wired)
SO YOU WANT to change your Twitter handle. When you got it two years ago, @PlankingGuy was funny, but today you get quizzical looks. @SexxyFoxxyMama was okay in college, but not on your new business cards. Or you realized @ERMAHGERD520 was a bit too hard for people to spell after all. You could just get a new account, but reacquiring your Following would be a pain, and you’d lose all your tweets. Luckily, it’s very easy to update your handle. From your page, find the gear icon at the top right, click Settings, and it’ll be the first text box you encounter, labeled “Username.” If your new name is available, you can change it, and instantly you will be @NewName, without losing a single follower.

h/t Jeremy Cherfas

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👓 If SoundCloud Disappears, What Happens to Its Music Culture? | New York Times

If SoundCloud Disappears, What Happens to Its Music Culture? by Jenna Wortham (New York Times)
The platform offered a public space with monetization as an afterthought. Now it could simply be deleted.
Jace Clayton, musician and the author of Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture
in If SoundCloud Disappears, What Happens to Its Music Culture? in the New York Times

 

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👓 Why Is Anthony Scaramucci Following Me on Twitter? | The Atlantic

Why Is Anthony Scaramucci Following Me on Twitter? by Adrienne Lafrance (The Atlantic)
Yes, this is probably a Taye Diggs situation.
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My article The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem hit #1 on Hacker News this morning (a first for me)!

Sadly, due to some quirky bugs last week, I’d turned caching off for the first time in 3 years, so my server has tipped over. If you’re having problems reading it, here’s an archived version.

Note to self: Don’t read the comments.

The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem is #1 on Hacker News today.

Update:

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The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem

How I temporarily cut my mom out of my social media life to reach a larger audience.

POSSE

For quite a while now, I’ve been publishing most of my content to my personal website first and syndicating copies of it to social media silos like Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Facebook. Within the Indieweb community this process is known as POSSE an acronym for Post on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

The Facebook Algorithm

Anecdotally most in social media have long known that doing this type of workflow causes your content to be treated like a second class citizen, particularly on Facebook which greatly prefers that users post to it manually or using one of its own apps rather than via API. [1][2][3][4] This means that the Facebook algorithm that decides how big an audience a piece of content receives, dings posts which aren’t posted manually within their system. Simply put, if you don’t post it manually within Facebook, not as many people are going to see it.

Generally I don’t care too much about this posting “tax” and happily use a plugin called Social Media Network Auto Poster (aka SNAP) to syndicate my content from my WordPress site to up to half a dozen social silos.

What I have been noticing over the past six or more months is an even more insidious tax being paid for posting to Facebook. I call it “The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem”.

Here’s what’s happening

I write my content on my own personal site. I automatically syndicate it to Facebook. My mom, who seems to be on Facebook 24/7, immediately clicks “like” on the post. The Facebook algorithm immediately thinks that because my mom liked it, it must be a family related piece of content–even if it’s obviously about theoretical math, a subject in which my mom has no interest or knowledge. (My mom has about 180 friends on Facebook; 45 of them overlap with mine and the vast majority of those are close family members).

The algorithm narrows the presentation of the content down to very close family. Then my mom’s sister sees it and clicks “like” moments later. Now Facebook’s algorithm has created a self-fulfilling prophesy and further narrows the audience of my post. As a result, my post gets no further exposure on Facebook other than perhaps five people–the circle of family that overlaps in all three of our social graphs. Naturally, none of these people love me enough to click “like” on random technical things I think are cool. I certainly couldn’t blame them for not liking these arcane topics, but shame on Facebook for torturing them for the exposure when I was originally targeting maybe 10 other colleagues to begin with.

This would all be okay if the actual content was what Facebook was predicting it was, but 99% of the time, it’s not the case. In general I tend to post about math, science, and other random technical subjects. I rarely post about closely personal things which are of great interest to my close family members. These kinds of things are ones which I would relay to them via phone or in person and not post about publicly.

Posts only a mother could love

I can post about arcane areas like Lie algebras or statistical thermodynamics, and my mom, because she’s my mom, will like all of it–whether or not she understands what I’m talking about or not. And isn’t this what moms do?! What they’re supposed to do? Of course it is!

mom-autolike (n.)–When a mother automatically clicks “like” on a piece of content posted to social media by one of their children, not because it has any inherent value, but simply because the content came from their child.

She’s my mom, she’s supposed to love me unconditionally this way!

The problem is: Facebook, despite the fact that they know she’s my mom, doesn’t take this fact into account in their algorithm.

What does this mean? It means either I quit posting to Facebook, or I game the system to prevent these mom-autolikes.

Preventing mom-autolikes

I’ve been experimenting. But how?

Facebook allows users to specifically target their audience in a highly granular fashion from the entire public to one’s circle of “friends” all the way down to even one or two specific people. Even better, they’ll let you target pre-defined circles of friends and even exclude specific people. So this is typically what I’ve been doing to end-around my Facebook Algorithm Mom problem. I have my site up set to post to either “Friends except mom” or “Public except mom”. (Sometimes I exclude my aunt just for good measure.) This means that my mom now can’t see my posts when I publish them!

Facebook will let you carefully and almost surgically define who can see your posts.

What a horrible son

Don’t jump the gun too quickly there Bubbe! I come back at the end of the day after the algorithm has run its course and my post has foreseeably reached all of the audience it’s likely to get. At that point, I change the audience of the post to completely “Public”.

You’ll never guess what happens next…

Yup. My mom “likes” it!

I love you mom. Thanks for all your unconditional love and support!!

Even better, I’m happy to report that generally the intended audience which I wanted to see the post actually sees it. Mom just gets to see it a bit later.

Dear Facebook Engineering

Could you fix this algorithm problem please? I’m sure I’m not the only son or daughter to suffer from it.

Have you noticed this problem yourself? I’d love to hear from others who’ve seen a similar effect and love their mothers (or other close loved ones) enough to not cut them out of their Facebook lives.

References

[1]
R. Tippens, “Drop the Autobot: Manual Posting to Facebook Outperforms Automated,” ReadWrite, 01-Aug-2011. [Online]. Available: https://readwrite.com/2011/08/01/manually_posting_to_facebook_significantly_outperf/. [Accessed: 11-Jul-2017]
[2]
“How to Increase Your Traffic from Facebook by 650% in 5 Seconds,” WPMUDEV, 02-Aug-2011. [Online]. Available: https://premium.wpmudev.org/blog/how-to-increase-your-traffic-from-facebook-by-650-in-5-seconds/. [Accessed: 11-Jul-2017]
[3]
J. D. Lasica, “Demystifying how Facebook’s news feeds work,” SocialMedia.biz, 11-Feb-2011. [Online]. Available: http://socialmedia.biz/2011/02/07/how-facebook-news-feeds-work/. [Accessed: 11-Jul-2017]
[4]
D. Hay, “Will auto-posting stunt the reach of your Facebook posts?,” SocialMedia.biz, 26-Jul-2011. [Online]. Available: http://socialmedia.biz/2011/07/26/will-auto-posting-stunt-the-reach-of-your-facebook-posts/. [Accessed: 11-Jul-2017]
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Working Facebook’s Land

Media Companies Are Getting Sick of Facebook by Sarah Frier and Gerry Smith (Bloomberg Businessweek)
News outlets are complaining about Facebook’s terms for TV-quality videos meant to compete with YouTube.

It’s getting tougher for CNN and others to view these arrangements as mutually beneficial. “Facebook is about Facebook,” says Andrew Morse, general manager of CNN’s digital operations. “For them, these are experiments, but for the media companies looking to partner with ­significant commitments, it gets to be a bit of whiplash.” Morse says the financial compensation Facebook offers isn’t enough to convince him that working directly with the social network will be worthwhile in the long term.

Jason Kint, chief executive officer of the industry trade group Digital Content Next, was more blunt. “Media companies are like serfs working Facebook’s land,” he says.

Yet another prime example why people should be owning and controlling their own content.

(h/t: iwantmyname.com)

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👓 Media Companies Are Getting Sick of Facebook | Bloomberg

Media Companies Are Getting Sick of Facebook by Sarah Frier and Gerry Smith (Bloomberg)
News outlets are complaining about Facebook’s terms for TV-quality videos meant to compete with YouTube.
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👓 Some Trump supporters thought NPR tweeted ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence. | Washington Post

Some Trump supporters thought NPR tweeted ‘propaganda.’ It was the Declaration of Independence. by Amy B. Wang (Washington Post)
Some Twitter users reacted angrily to the thread, accusing NPR of spamming them or pushing an agenda.

HA!

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