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Facebook is sharpening its grip on Instagram

When Instagram first appeared in the news this week, it was cheating. A large number of celebrities had posted a battered image on their timelines, stating that Instagram would soon disclose our deleted photos & messages and use them in court unless we post the contrary. It was of course not true, but it was seemed faithful enough to some of our greatest stars – such as Beyoncé's mother and the man in charge of our nation's nuclear arsenal.

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The digital content industry invalidated the copypasta, celebrities placed sheepish apologies (or not), and we all resumed waiting for the next stupid thing to worry about stories about the burning rain forest in the Amazon and the efforts of the President for Greenland to buy (?).

Why do people fall for hoaxes like this, which have been around for most of a decade? In Wired, Paris Martineau talks to a behavioral scientist who explains that social media make us more stupid:

"The brain is set to give us easy answers … so if there is a hoax that appeals to people's emotions or intuition, it will mislead people because many people just don't spend as much time thinking about the things they do on social media, ”says Gordon Pennycook, an associate professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Regina in Canada, who studies decision making. "Social media is also partly to blame, because it is designed to encourage engagement, and that involvement is often at the expense of shutting down people's brains a little."

At the New York Times, John Herrman takes the opposite view. The terms of service for every social network are not much more than a nonsense promise, he writes – Instagram users this week were just fighting fire with fire:

All major social apps explain themselves in this way. The same services that we use to distribute false information depend on the web of rules that are rarely read and a series of & # 39; agreements & # 39; who are so cartoonishly skewed that they might as well be invented. Online we live in a world that is determined and ruled by what feels like magic words. What else should we post about?

I'm with Herrman.

In any case, some changes have been made to Instagram lately – they just aren't the ones the energy secretary is concerned about. In a revealing new report The information, Alex Heath tells the 11 months since Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have left their creation in the hands of Mark Zuckerberg and his deputy, Adam Mosseri. In his story, what started as a warm embrace of a fast-growing new company has recently become more like the pressure of a python. Heath writes:

In the approximately 11 months since Mosseri took over, most of the senior leadership team at Instagram was replaced, Facebook has instructed Instagram to approximately double the number of ads in the app and the company weighs together the technical substantiation of the messaging service behind Facebook , WhatsApp and Instagram. Together the changes send a message that the days of independence on Instagram, whose employees were used to their autonomy within Facebook, are over.

The challenge for Mosseri, the beloved former head of Facebook & # 39; s News Feed who has worked for the company for more than a decade, is to stabilize the organization behind Instagram, an app that is widely seen both inside and outside Facebook promising source of the company's future growth. If the exodus of old Instagram employees continues, there is a risk that Facebook will lose the talent that made the app special in the first place.

On the one hand, Instagram is really doing very well. The division earned $ 1 billion in revenue for the first time in 2016, Heath reports, and is expected to generate $ 15.8 billion this year. That is almost a quarter of Facebook's total revenue.

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On the other hand, Instagram is bleeding … Instagramness. As I wrote when it was first reported that Facebook was planning to make one back end for all its services, Instagram has become little more than a name: a public-oriented brand that is represented behind the scenes by genuine Facebook employees. That sounds obvious today, but it still represents a huge departure from where Instagram was today a year ago: still convinced of its own uniqueness, it clings to the remains of its independence from the mainland.

And what has replaced the old values ​​of Instagram? Well, there is the doubling of the advertising load, for starters, that I have felt quite acute as a user lately. (I see one inverted between stories or something every third time.) The laser focus on shopping has the potential to turn large parts of the app into a store catalog. (Heath reports that the company has suspended a planned stand-alone store app, whose existence I unveiled last year.)

But usually there is only Facebook, wherever you look. It is in the executive ranks, which now mainly consist of Facebook import. It is in the e-mail addresses of the employees, who have been transferred to fb.com. It is in the language & # 39; Instagram of Facebook & # 39; which is now on the settings page.

Facebook has clearly accelerated the rise of Instagram, making it invaluable for years. But the more I look at the vice Facebook has the most valued acquisition today, the more I wonder if the company can be just as beneficial for Instagram in the future as it is in the past.

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Push back

Yesterday we have talked about some research suggesting new approaches to reducing extremism online. A paper from researchers at George Washington University and the University of Miami suggested focusing on smaller clusters of hate speech, banning random sampling of users over time instead of all at once, recruiting volunteers to argue in public deal with hate clusters and draw on hate clusters with different ideologies against each other to suck them out of their energy.

I asked you to tell me what you made of these ideas, and I think it's fair to say you hated them.

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In one of the biggest responses I have received to a newsletter so far, you told me that these ideas were misleading or impractical. Some quotes from readers:

  • "These techniques sound absurd to me."
  • “I think this policy will only cause more polarization. Either by escalating the antagonistic debate online between hate groups and anti-hate groups, or by the fact that these hate groups will eventually discover the little trick that the "big cats" had set up to suppress them. "
  • "Are steps 3 and 4 not what the Internet Research Agency did during the 2016 elections?"
  • "These people have repeatedly proven to be resistant to goodwill, an appeal to morality and common sense – to me they are ordinary criminals. Even the hardest of souls would have their hands full trying to crack these hard nuts – the least recalcitrant of their number would never listen. "

Oh yeah. We may find a more satisfactory answer in the following paper on the subject.

Democracy

YouTube has eliminated 210 accounts that have coordinated to weaken the protests in Hong Kong. And last but not least! But note that Google, like Facebook, does not specifically feel the Chinese government as the entity behind the campaign. (Chris Welch / The edge)

Just Google published a blog post revealing that it has turned off 210 YouTube channels that the company says they acted in a coordinated way while uploading videos with regard to ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Google calls the behavior consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter. & # 39; The accounts were disabled earlier this week.

Both Facebook and Twitter recently non-hedged and suspended accounts that social media companies believe they were managed by the Chinese government and designed to sow and undermine doubts about ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Twitter has suspended nearly 1,000 accounts linked to China and Facebook has removed several pages, groups, and accounts that were linked to the attempt to disseminate information that was opposed to the protests.

"We found the use of VPNs and other methods to hide the origin of these accounts and other activities that are often associated with coordinated impact operations," wrote Shane Huntley of Google's Threat Analysis Group in the blog post. "These actions are part of our ongoing efforts to protect the integrity of our platforms and the safety and privacy of our users."

Meanwhile, Facebook reported new evidence of non-authentic activity in Myanmarand deleted dozens of pages, groups, and accounts. They had a collective 900,000 followers.

New research suggests that place warning labels on shared stories Facebook That fact checkers have determined that they are false actually discourages people from sharing them. (Daniel Funke / Poynter)

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Reuters completes every removal Facebook has announced this year so far.

Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission officials say the draft order from the Trump administration forces them to enforce content management standards is probably unconstitutional. (Brian Fung / CNN)

Disinformation for rental services with a profit motive are a growth share, and they are practically not regulated by US law. (Joe Uchill / Axios)

Western Journal was a popular supplier of hyper-partisan clickbait and incorrect information (& # 39; Obama is Muslim & # 39 ;, etc.). Until recently it flourished on Facebook and Google. Then the platforms eliminated the money sponge and now the founders in Washington are lobbying for "digital censorship" – and are making their own news app about fever swamps. (Nicholas Confessore and Justin Bank / New York Times)

A carefully reported report of how Amazon the court of the Pentagon. (James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke / ProPublica)

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To circumvent a law in California that requires alcohol suppliers to have a physical location, Amazon founding a fake liquor store in California. (W. Blake Gray / Wine Searcher)

Elsewhere

Meet the people who are excluded from their Facebook accounts and never find their way back. In the New York Times, Kashmir Hill investigates the consequences of the lack of human customer service by Facebook.

In the Facebook version of a legal system, users are only told that their accounts have been disabled for & # 39; suspicious activity & # 39 ;. If they appeal – via a short form that only accepts a name, contact information and an image of an ID – a mysterious assessment process begins. Waiting can be endless and the inability to contact a Facebook employee makes you crazy. More and more agitated Facebook shipwrecks turn to Twitter, Reddit, Quora, message boards and, well, me for help. Because I have one history of write about (and sometimes resolve) People & # 39; s issues with the platform, deeply addicted Facebook users have found their way to my inbox, which e-mails several times a day for updates about their affairs that I don't have. (…)

It is possible that users such as Mr. Reeves and Ms. May got into trouble. But the number of people complaining about Facebook accounts with disabilities has been increasing for years, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission, which has followed three such complaints in 2015, 12 in 2016 and more than 50 in each of the last two years .

Mark Zuckerberg has sold Facebook shares for $ 296 million this monthas part of regularly planned stock sales. (Salvador Rodriguez / CNBC)

People sell weapons Snapchat (and be arrested for it.) (Darwin BondGraham / The Guardian)

The online intimidation techniques that flourished during Gamergate have now moved to the classroom, where teachers are now confronted with YouTubers who are pushing agendas. (Megan Farokhmanesh / The edge)

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YouTube has killed his private message function. It's a rarity for Google, where endlessly multiplying messengers are a defining part of any product roadmap. (Jon Porter / The edge)

The hot new thing at Philadelphia Tinder is mentioning your union membership. (Juliana Feliciano Reyes / The Philadelphia Inquirer)

And finally …

News Corp Readies News app to address publishers' concerns about Google and Facebook

The emergence of Google and Facebook as twin watchmen between the public and high-quality journalism is an important issue that needs serious consideration. And yet the proposed solution from News Corp, now under development, is just completely hilarious to me:

The service, currently called Knewz.com, is expected to be a website and a mobile app. An early version is being shown to a small group of News Corp executives, and an official launch could come later this year, although no specific timeline has been set, people said. The company could still decide not to proceed with the project, they said. (…)

The project aims to offer smaller outlets that News Corp. executives think are often downgraded in Google search results and Facebook social feed, people say.

That includes publishers with a conservative audience such as the Daily Wire, the Daily Caller, the Washington Free Beacon and the Washington Examiner, according to some people. Others said the idea is to emphasize creditable news stories, regardless of politics, and note that progressive sites such as Daily Kos and ThinkProgress are included.

So it's Gab, but then for Google News. This thing will make Tronc look like an all-time victory.

Talk to me

Send me tips, comments, questions and your Instagram copy paste: casey@theverge.com.