November 11, 2016 Last Updated 10:00 am

The media’s relationship with Facebook, already complicated, now beginning to be questioned

Morning Brief: Journalists are beginning to understand that the news they produce is being swamped by a sea of content created to serve those who use social media as their main news source

The media has a complicated relationship with Facebook, simultaneously fearing the social network company as one of its toughest and most feared competitors, while often working with the company in order to take advantage of its huge audience. But the media’s relationship with Facebook is now about to become more complicated as it examines where many of the readers it wants to attract are actually getting its news, and what that news actually is.

I am not a Facebook user myself, so all those friend requests just get ignored. Like other media people, I also have multiple log-ins because I created pages for media properties. But this morning, in order to clean things up again I logged into my accounts and did some housecleaning. If Facebook were real life, as many probably believe, I now have far fewer friends today than yesterday. As one person wrote on my timeline “you can’t choose your family.” Well, actually, you can. At least on Facebook.

TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas:

Facebook admits it must do more to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform

MZ-fab-300In a statement sent to TechCrunch responding to a series of questions we put to the company (see below for what we asked), Adam Mosseri, VP of product management at Facebook, conceded the company does need to do more to tackle this problem — although he did not give any indication of how it plans to address the issue.

Here’s his statement in full:

We take misinformation on Facebook very seriously. We value authentic communication, and hear consistently from those who use Facebook that they prefer not to see misinformation. In Newsfeed we use various signals based on community feedback to determine which posts are likely to contain inaccurate information, and reduce their distribution. In Trending we look at a variety of signals to help make sure the topics being shown are reflective of real-world events, and take additional steps to prevent false or misleading content from appearing. Despite these efforts we understand there’s so much more we need to do, and that is why it’s important that we keep improving our ability to detect misinformation. We’re committed to continuing to work on this issue and improve the experiences on our platform.

Facebook has previously been criticized for firing the human editors it used to employ to curate its trending news section. The replacement algorithm it switched to was quickly shown to be trivially easy to fool.

Fortune, Kia Kokalitcheva:

Mark Zuckerberg Says Fake News on Facebook Affecting the Election Is a ‘Crazy Idea’

“I think the idea that fake news on Facebook—of which it’s a very small amount of the content—influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea,” he said on Thursday at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., just two days after Donald Trump was elected president, according to media reports.

“There have been hoaxes on the Internet, there were hoaxes before,” he said. “We do our best to make it so that people can report that, and as I said before, we can show people the most meaningful content we can.”

One thing that has driven me completely crazy in the 48 hours since the election, is that much of the mainstream media has gotten great joy out of beating themselves up and blaming an election result they do not like on “the media.” Of course, “the media” is defined as a few newspapers and a few cable outlets. Not included in their definition of “the media” is all the other news sources that exist today. But, of course, that is “the media,” too.

Blaming the media for anything is lazy – after all, you can always say it is the media’s fault and there will be a sliver of truth to it. You can also probably blame your uncle Ted, too – he was the one that passed on the bad story through social media. So, the end, it gets you nowhere.

The New York Times, John Hermann:

Online, Everything Is Alternative Media

It is telling that nobody quite knows what to ask of Facebook now that the election is over. To rid itself of false news? (How?) To help users cross ideological lines? (In which directions?) Such questions are asked with an eerily similar presumption: that by merely pointing out the popularity of fake news or misrepresentative content that appeared on the platform during the election, the point is made and will be heeded. This is also visible in the many “what we could have done differently” articles, which contain obvious presumptions of power and control — the belief, held throughout the campaign, by outlets that they, and not the audience, were in charge of the story, or popular perception.

Facebook has remained passive, taking shelter behind claims that it is a tech company rather than a media company. Its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post on Thursday, wrote that “we are all blessed to have the ability to make the world better, and we have the responsibility to do it.” Twitter’s chief, Jack Dorsey, was similarly noncommittal in a series of tweets: “We are one country, and we have one goal: Provide for the common good.”

Mr. Bozell, in June, described Facebook as a “marketplace for conservatism,” a suggestion that doubles as an attempt to define that vague distinction between tech and media: Tech creates marketplaces, and everyone else merely participates. It is also a reminder that markets are not neutral, but that it is in their creators’ interest to suggest they are.

Spin-offs are highly lucrative for those executives involved in them, and occasionally the shareholders. So, as unlikely as an ESPN spin-off might seem, I would not discount it – especially when the Trump administration cuts taxes for the uberwealthy, as they have promised.

CNBC, Elizabeth Gurdus:

Liberty Media’s Malone sees Disney possibly spinning off ESPN

Content distribution giant Disney is being held back from its full potential by ESPN and may consider spinning off the sports broadcast network, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone told CNBC on Thursday.

“If I had to guess, what you will see is a split of Disney with ESPN spun off and, probably, ESPN could be owned and protected by a distributor in the U.S.,” Malone said.

ESPN has become something of a hindrance to Disney, Malone said, as the sports network has grown more costly over the years.

“In order to solve the issue of having to pay more every time the contract comes up, they went long,” Malone said, referring to Disney’s expectation that ESPN would become more profitable in the future.

Finally, consider the life of poor John Lewis, an otherwise anonymous Twitter users, who yesterday had his life turned upside down because John Lewis – the UK retailer – put out their annual Christmas ad. He told folks he was not the “John Lewis” they were looking for, but to no avail.

For many in the States, who don’t know what this was all about, maybe this helps:

The Guardian, Sarah Butler:

John Lewis unveils Christmas ad starring a dog on a trampoline

The retailer’s ads have inspired dozens of parodies, including a version of last year’s Man on the Moon ad by the discount grocer Aldi. This year a fake John Lewis ad made by an A-level student has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube. In recent years John Lewis has vied with Sainsbury’s for the most viewed advert, with both garnering more than 23m views on YouTube last year.

Once again the adverts have a charitable link. The Wildlife Trusts will get 10% of sales of cuddly toy versions of the animals as John Lewis aims to offset some of the increasing hype around the advert, which is seen as the start of the festive season by many British shoppers.

Inglis said: “Each year we work with a charity which fits our ad, and we hope this year’s campaign will encourage more children to discover a love of British wildlife and encourage support of the Wildlife Trusts.”

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