Social Media Briefing: Can Facebook predict when you'll die?
If you could find out when you were going to die, would you?
It’s a question that’s plagued humanity – and the Final Destination franchise – forever. Luckily, the question has been pretty hypothetical for the most part – but could become one we need to start seriously asking ourselves in the near future.
Facebook has filed patents that suggest it will be able to predict big life events, including when you’re going to die – something which I have absolutely no desire to know, but admit I’ll probably be tempted to look at if the option’s there.
The ‘Predicting Life Changes’ patent uses a ‘life change prediction engine’ based in machine learning and other voodoo algorithms that in theory would be able to tell you anything from when you’ll get a new job, have kids or join the big Facebook in the sky.
The patent says it also uses the historical data of other users who have gone through life change events to help its predictions.
What’s the benefit? Well, it lets Facebook serve you even more targeted ads, and it gives you the chance to stew about your demise, or compare your life plan to how Facebook has told you it should be going.
It’s also rolling out a feature that lets you calculate how much time you’re spending on it, so you could even figure out what percentage of the time you have left on this green earth you’re going to spend scrolling through pictures of friends’ weddings and brunches.
Substantial, would be my guess.
Meme-icry still the sincerest form of flattery says Commission
After rumours of a new ‘Article 13’ coming in to steal the internet’s memes set Twitter a-flap, the EU Commission responded in the best way it knew how – with a meme.
The article is a controversial new addition to the EU Copyright Directive which will make it harder to share content which includes copyrighted material.
Users were worried this could impact memes and ‘reaction gifs’ which typically use images and video taken directly from copyrighted films and television shows.
However the Twitter account for the EU Commission used a well-known and copyrighted image of Patrick Stewart in the role of Star Trek’s Captain Jean Luc-Piccard to reply to the tweets.
Ron Moscona, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in London, has also said that from a legal point of view the fears are probably unfounded.
“It is naïve to suggest that just because the law requires platforms to take measure against unlawful materials, the internet will cease to be an open forum,” Moscona told BusinessCloud.
“If it turns out (as campaigners seem to fear) that some platform operators are going to be clumsy in dealing with suspected infringements and that they would block out a great deal of legitimate content posted by their users, competition should drive forward other platforms.”
Instagram puts group calling in the picture
Hot on the heels of their IGTV launch, Instagram is rolling out Instagram Direct - group video calling which will let up to four users chat together at the same time.
A couple of handy features will let users minimise the call and keep scrolling through Instagram which is useful if you want to chat about something you’ve seen on the platform.
At four users per call, the platform is offering the least number of people on a group video chat – with most being FaceTime’s 32-way calls coming later this year – but is a good next step if the platform wants to keep growing.
Part of the strategy is clearly adding some bulk to its features, as other newbies include a revamped Explore tab, which comes with a range of categories at the top of the screen to help you discover new content tailored to you through AI.
It’s also rolling out new augmented reality filter camera effects designed by partners such as Ariana Grande, BuzzFeed and the NBA in the latest Snapchat-esque move.
You can see the effect in the Stories section of the celeb account, and if you see a friend using a filter you like you can use ‘Try It On’ to add it to your toolkit.
You could soon see more crypto ads on Facebook
Despite banning cryptocurrency ads on Facebook back in January, the social network has done an about-turn, saying it’s going to loosen the ban on some adverts if they go through an application process.
Zuck and his team decided to crack down on crypto in the first place because of dangers around misleading and deceptive practices. If they can be declared safe and legit though, they might be OK.
In the meantime it’s going to keep blocking ads for other potentially dicey financial products such as initial coin offerings, it said in a blog post on Tuesday.
To get cleared for crypto, companies will be assessed based on “any licenses they have obtained, whether they are traded on a public stock exchange, and other relevant public background on their business”.
Extremist material 24-hour takedown
Tackling extremist content on social media and tech platforms has been a pain point both for the sites themselves and for the government in recent years.
However a new amendment put forward for inclusion in new counter-terror legislation would see Google, Facebook, YouTube and other sites required by law to take down extremist material within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.
“If these companies can remove copyrighted video or music content from companies like Disney within a matter of hours, there is no excuse for them to be failing to do so for extremist material,” said Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who is behind the proposal.
It’s currently passing through parliament where it will be carefully examined, so for now we’ll just have to wait and see.
How diverse is your Twitter feed?
Diversity in tech is one of the industry’s most talked about issues but addressing the balance isn’t just the responsibility of high-profile tech companies and law-makers, we all have a part to play. And you might be surprised to find out that one quick fix is your Twitter feed.
Website diversifyyourfeed.org takes your Twitter handle and tells you how gender-balanced your feed is.
It analyses the people you follow and tells you what percentage are male and female, then tells you how that measures against the average.
It told me my feed was 63 per cent women and 37 per cent men, which was 21.6 per cent more gender-balanced than average.
Below that it chirped up with ‘Now you know. What you do is up to you’, giving me examples of a few male accounts to follow.
It also has a ‘why should I care’ section that gives a few solid reasons for making sure you’re not just hearing from one type of account:
- Social media algorithms create ideological echo chambers, or ‘bubbles’. Diversify to escape.
- If variety is the spice of life, diversity is the curry house. Enrich yourself by opening your mind.
- Some studies show that diversity is good for business. Broader thinking = deeper pockets.
Painting a picture of influencer life
It’s no secret that social media influencers get a few perks with the job – while I’m off bargain-hunting in Aldi, they’re getting match-made with brands to send them freebies.
But one thing I didn’t expect was that they’re now getting exclusive access to art too.
That’s right – there’s a mural in LA that only verified influencers or people with over 20,000 followers are allowed to see.
With a security guard and screen, the mural – which apparently includes a set of wings inside a heart surrounded with the words “City of Angels”, “love” and “art” – has been getting a lot of heat on Twitter. One user tweeted that it’s ‘not even a good mural’ and another said restricting access to it is ‘un-American’.
It might become clear that it’s all a marketing campaign or stunt, but we could have to wait a few weeks to find out as the solo post from the people behind the artwork, @likeandsubscribe, reads “Coming July 9th”.