Neville Hobson https://www.nevillehobson.com www.nevillehobson.com Sat, 26 May 2018 11:45:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 3316880 SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/10/sdf-podcast-18-inertia-ethics-and-breaches-of-trust/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/10/sdf-podcast-18-inertia-ethics-and-breaches-of-trust/#respond Thu, 10 May 2018 20:16:35 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/06/5900-revision-v1/ Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply. The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in […]

The post SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>

Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply.

The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in the depths of despair, Neville HobsonThomas Stoeckle, and I end up hoping that the asteroid NASA predicts is hurtling towards earth can be diverted from its nihilistic path.

This episode’s show notes were written by Sam Knowles.

We kick off considering the implications of Google recently losing a landmark “right to be forgotten” case in the UK courts. For me, the case says more about national (courts) and supranational (the EU) organisations looking to flex – and being seen to flex – their regulatory and legislative muscles in the face of the increasing hegemony of FAANG. Facebook Apple Amazon Netflix and Google.

This takes us naturally to consider yet another month of woes for Facebook. Since we last podded, Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress and the Senate and explained – as patiently as he could to Congressmen and Senators often more than twice his age – how the publisher-platform makes its money; “Senator, we sell ads!”

The company is preparing to be hauled over the coals at the House of Commons Select Committee run by the Department of Culture, Media, and (also) Sport in London. Apparently ham-fistedly, it has on-shoredits data warehouse of European users from Ireland to the U.S.A. “to get around GDPR”. And Money Saving Expert (and millionaire), consumer champion Martin Lewis is suing Facebook for defamation after his image appeared in bogus financial ads. Irony of irony, those ads were programmatically served alongside articles reporting Lewis’ legal action.

As recently as last August, people were talking about the prospect of President Zuckerberg by 2020. That prospect seems remote today.

And yet, and yet …. despite perhaps the worst run of bad news in recent corporate history, ad revenue and profitability at Facebook continue to grow. Big brands aren’t weaning themselves off their Facebook addiction, whatever big beasts including P&G’s Marc Pritchard and Unilever’s Keith Weed might say.

And not just Facebook. The head of Government communications in the UK – the very visible, conference favourite and former flatmate of George Osbourne, Alex Aiken – recently admitted that taking all departments off YouTube in the wake of the ad misplacement scandal stoked by The Times last year for three months had absolutely no impact on campaign KPIs. No fewer people recycling. No less applications for the army. And yet – despite that conclusive evidence – the UK Government is back spending with Alphabet’s video sharing site.

Marketing’s sweariest MBA professor, Mark Ritson, who moonlights as a columnist for Marketing Week, pointed the finger squarely at CMOs who have remained silent in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal … precisely because the psychographic targeting and use of 1st, 2nd, but particularly 3rd-party data has been the stock-in-trade of their digital advertising for years. More evidence of inertia from business to shift out of their shiny new ways of reaching consumers through FAANG.

But Facebook isn’t the only villain in this story. As we concluded in the previous episode  of the podcast, “If it’s free, you are the product”. The CA debacle has made this truism widely discussed for perhaps the first time in the mainstream media and among users. Many have been publicly outraged, and #DeleteFacebook campaigns have circled the globe, including on Facebook and led by some who’ve made billions from Facebook, most notably the cofounder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton.

As with advertisers, so with users. The numbers leaving the platform has been little more than a trickle. Some have tightened security settings – and many have denied Facebook the opportunity to apply facial recognition algorithms to recognise them where they’re untagged as part of a pre-GDPR update. But the threat of losing the chance of being poked by your first love is proving too much of an anchor to users. Inertia rules, despite the very clear appeals to reason.

Perhaps we’re living in the digital equivalent of when Sir Richard Doll first established a conclusive link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1950s, but smoking rates stayed stubbornly high. Indeed, the impact of likes and favourites, retweets and shares is mediated through the very same reward circuitry in the brain as each puff of a cigarette, so perhaps this inertia to shake our digital addiction isn’t surprising. This film says more.

Our conversation broadens from Facebook’s woes – accompanied by brands’ continued support for the tarnished behemoth – to bigger issues.

To discussions of who benefits from the data-driven digital revolution (FAANG rather than citizens).

To an exploration of the murky world of the military-digital industrial complex, exposed in a recent article from Tamsin Shaw in the New York Review of Books.

And to the naivety of the UK Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, in their declared goal of outlawing micro-targeting of voters with political messages in the wake of the CA cock-up.

I contend – as we hurtle towards despair – that ‘twas ever thus, and that it is a mistake to even consider the behaviour of corporations and governments in terms of individual morality. Yes, there are corporations – from Unilever to Kimberley Clark, Harley Davidson to Patagonia – that attempt to “do well by doing good”, to bake triple bottom-line sustainability into how they do business.

But the primary – legal – duty of the officers and board of (particularly) listed or quoted businesses is to maximise return to shareholders, and that can – will – and does bring ethical challenges to the heart of corporate life. The profit motive (almost) always trumps purpose.

More than once, as we come towards the end of our time – on this podcast, not on this planet – Thomas muses on whether our downloaded homunculi will still be discussing these same topics 50 years from now, on episode 618 of the Small Data Forum. And that – for me at least – was the climax or second act turning point of the narrative arc of this episode.

Perhaps, just perhaps, things can feel desperate because – for the first time – many more people (and potentially everyone) has a clear line of sight into what is actually happening. It’s confused, it’s nested and vested, it’s murky and dirty, and ordinary individual citizens don’t seem to have any heft or influence over the corporate-military-industrial complex. But you can’t do anything about anything unless you have line of sight. Hence my grain of optimism.

Neville, too, sees reasons to be cheerful, though rather more prosaically around the preparedness of big business for GDPR. While there are clear Millennium Bug parallels – including the legion consultants who’ve grown fat giving advice to confused corporates – he asserts that the world will most certainly not fall off its axis on 25 May, nor will it be shown to be flat. Neville is encouraged by the flurry of activity evident around compliance, and his optimism surrounds the fact that many companies will be “substantially compliant” by the deadline.

As ever, time is the enemy of we three podcasters. We don’t get to the ethics, legal, and little-big data implications of DNA. As a means of data storage and as permanent record of every citizen’s genetic inheritance, environmental reality, and likely cause and time of death and sickness. Insurance companies must be rubbing their hands with glee.

But more of that next time in episode 19, due to be prepared and served up just in time for GDPR Day.

Listen to episode 18:

Sam Knowles is the Founder & MD of Insight Agents, a corporate and brand storytelling consultancy. His book Narrative by Numbers: How to Tell Powerful & Purposeful Stories with Data was published by Routledge in April 2018. More at www.narrativebynumbers.com

(Photo at top by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash)

The post SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/05/10/sdf-podcast-18-inertia-ethics-and-breaches-of-trust/feed/ 0 52583
For Immediate Release 134: We start with Starbucks and end with drones https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/24/for-immediate-release-134-we-start-with-starbucks-and-end-with-drones/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/24/for-immediate-release-134-we-start-with-starbucks-and-end-with-drones/#respond Tue, 24 Apr 2018 06:29:32 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=52414 In this April edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talk about… Starbucks’ response to a racial incident in Philadelphia that went viral and sparked protests In an effort to reduce “noise pollution,” Ghana wants Muslims to issue the call to prayer via WhatsApp The line between earned and paid media is […]

The post For Immediate Release 134: We start with Starbucks and end with drones appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>

In this April edition of The Hobson & Holtz Report, Neville and Shel talk about…

  • Starbucks’ response to a racial incident in Philadelphia that went viral and sparked protests
  • In an effort to reduce “noise pollution,” Ghana wants Muslims to issue the call to prayer via WhatsApp
  • The line between earned and paid media is blurring and consumers don’t care which is which
  • There’s a reckoning coming for terms and conditions
  • Augmented Reality is making huge inroads (except in corporate communications)
  • Journalists in developing countries are using drones and sensors to cover environmental crimes and pollution

In his Tech Report, Dan York reports on what he found when he downloaded his Facebook data, Jordan Peel’s deepfake PSA from Barack Obama, why Chrome’s article recommendation feature could drive huge traffic to publishers, Flickr has been acquired by SmugMug (which plans to revitalize the photo service), and Mozilla has issued a call to storytellers to create content with Augmented and Virtual Reality.

Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music.

Listen Now

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this week’s episode

Links from Dan York’s report

The post For Immediate Release 134: We start with Starbucks and end with drones appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/24/for-immediate-release-134-we-start-with-starbucks-and-end-with-drones/feed/ 0 52414
Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/12/realities-relationships-facebook/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/12/realities-relationships-facebook/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 10:50:20 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=52086 This week has been an extraordinary one, not only for Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and members of the US Congress but also for users of Facebook and other social networking platforms wherever they are in the world. Indeed, it has been a week of revelation and food for considerable thought on a grand scale. During […]

The post Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>

This week has been an extraordinary one, not only for Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and members of the US Congress but also for users of Facebook and other social networking platforms wherever they are in the world.

Indeed, it has been a week of revelation and food for considerable thought on a grand scale.

During two days, on April 10 and April 11, the Facebook co-founder and CEO appeared before members of the US Senate and Congress to answer questions about Facebook and how it handles the personal information of its users. These appearances follow news headlines for weeks about the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica data scandal and undercover reporting-driven disclosures about grave misuse of the personal data of millions of users.

Each session was around five hours; both were broadcast live on television and myriad social media channels, reaching a truly global audience. You can read transcripts of each session (Senate | Congress) if you want deep dives on (searchable) word-by-word accounts.

What can we make of this reality TV-type of event in the Trump age of soul-baring declarations, including apologies, by politicians and business celebrities? While it’s clear that what happened at Facebook regarding users’ personal data has caused widespread outrage at such an egregious breach of trust and ethics, will anything actually happen as a result of this?

One thing that could be a catalyst is next month’s GDPR regulation in European Union law that spells the end for what the Harvard Business Review calls “the Internet’s Grand Bargain” on data protection and privacy:

[…] the U.S-based content industry largely has itself to blame for the EU’s draconian new rules, as well as those now being reconsidered at home. Internet companies have had over a decade to integrate basic data collection and use safeguards into their operations, including limiting the data they collect and adopting international information security standards. These efforts have mostly failed. Today nearly 40% of all cybersecurity incidents involve insiders, not hackers.

Regulation of Facebook (a point I speculated on in my post last month about the data scandal) is a topic that governments have started talking about more. In his session with congressmen on April 11, Mark Zuckerberg even suggested that regulation might be “inevitable” for Facebook and other such companies:

“The internet is growing in importance around the world in people’s lives and I think that it is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation,” he said.

Be sure that a debate on this and every related topic will be deep and wide in scope and scale, once it gets underway. When would that be? “Soon” :)

A Deal with the Devil

While we can be outraged at what Facebook has let happen, all of this is only one part of the picture. The other part concerns that group of people known as ‘users’ – the people who signed up to Facebook and use it as a means of connecting with others, sharing news and experiences, discovering new things and new friends, etc.

There are more than 2 billion such people worldwide. I’m one.

When it comes to data protection and privacy – that’s our data and our privacy – what role do we have in this sorry saga? When it comes to agreeing the rules of the game – terms and conditions of use, agreeing to privacy policies, cookies, data sharing, it’s a long list – what’s our responsibility before we hit that ‘Sign me up!’ button?

Here’s the New Yorker shining a spotlight on our failure:

We’ve known the dangers of Facebook for years. We certainly knew of them before social media, with and without Cambridge Analytica, twisted and fractured the political information that ultimately led to the election of Donald Trump […] It’s not like we weren’t told that using Facebook could have serious consequences for our digital privacy. They wrote on the wall at Facebook that they were going to break things. What did we think they were going to do?

The dream of a world of total connection has resulted in unprecedented alienation. The dream of a world of instantly accessible knowledge has drifted into stupidity and lies. We blame Zuckerberg because we can’t stand to blame ourselves. The truth is that we made a deal with Facebook; we gave up our information for free. Unable to bear our own responsibility for the world we have chosen, we have turned the technologists into monsters we can blame.

So we knew the dangers yet still we signed up. Did we read those t&c and privacy and cookie policies? Like hell we did! Gimme free access, now!

And the deal the New Yorker mentions, along with the “Grand Bargain” the Harvard Business Review talks about, look so much like a deal with the Devil, a Faustian bargain. So let’s apportion blame every which way. It isn’t equally shared – we trusted Facebook, after all, no matter how blindly or foolishly.

And while we wait for the politicians, the regulators, the business people to actually agree on what’s next – not only for Facebook but also other platforms such as Twitter, Google, Amazon – let’s make some suggestions including on what each of us can do right now.

Start with the five points suggested in the Internet Society’s call to action, embracing:

  1. Fairness
  2. Transparency
  3. Choice
  4. Simplicity
  5. Respect

Let’s work on a better deal. We can do it if we have a mind to.

(Disclosure: I mentioned the Internet Society in this post, so I should also mention that I’m the Social Media Strategist at the Internet Society. Not that this has any effect or influence on what I’ve written, but disclosed nevertheless.)

The post Exposing the realities of our relationships with Facebook and other social platforms appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/12/realities-relationships-facebook/feed/ 0 52086
SDF Podcast 17 – “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it” https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/06/sdf-podcast-17-falsehood-flies-and-truth-comes-limping-after-it/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/06/sdf-podcast-17-falsehood-flies-and-truth-comes-limping-after-it/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 20:19:03 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=51945 The SmallDataForum convened in late March, and as for our big story, we had several candidates and angles on the same theme of the use and abuse of data. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. Sam is now a newly published author of a book about how to tell powerful and purposeful […]

The post SDF Podcast 17 – “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it” appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>

The SmallDataForum convened in late March, and as for our big story, we had several candidates and angles on the same theme of the use and abuse of data.

This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle.

Sam is now a newly published author of a book about how to tell powerful and purposeful stories with data, Narrative by Numbers. A very timely (and equally timeless) topic and title.

A recently published study in Science about the velocity and spread of true and false news online caught our attention. Tina McCorkindale, CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, did a great analysis with key takeaways for communicators.

Discussing the study, Sam referred to Jonathan Swift’s famous quote from 1710 in The Art of Political Lying that “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect”.

It is also a fitting motto for Calling Bullshit, that cheekily named MOOC on our modern challenge with facts and critical, analytic thoughts, by US academics Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West.

The ability to think critically is a key factor in addressing our manifold disinformation challenges. There is a lot of hype, as well as widespread scepticism about Cambridge Analytica’s claims about their ground-breaking use of data for psychological profiling and microtargeting, and former CEO Alex Nix’s role as digital Svengali or snake-oil salesman.

Former Facebook head of ad targeting Antonio Garcia Martinez is an authoritative voice, and his Wired piece on the “noisy fallacies” of psychographics is a must read.

Less of a must read, but a good trigger for a lively discussion was an article on Medium which claims that “almost everything reported about the Cambridge Analytica Facebook controversy is wrong”.

It is more focused on criticising the media, than connecting the dots between the various interested and involved parties. For example, when the focus is on the connection with the world of military information operations, SCL, the company behind Cambridge Analytica (CA), is the more interesting story. Both SCL and CA worked  for British and American security services.

There is also a connection to Bell Pottinger, the disgraced UK communications firm which earned more than $500m from propaganda work for the Pentagon in Iraq – work that was led at the time by Mark Turnbull, now managing director of SCL Elections (and featuring prominently in Channel4’s undercover reporting).

The close proximity to military propaganda is one uncomfortable aspect of the wider story. But it is also worth mentioning that in the study of what makes news, the negative, the sensational, the controversial and the unexpected have always dominated.

That was the finding of the first systematic news values analysis by Norwegian scholars Johan Galtung and Mari Ruge in 1965 in The Structure of Foreign News. And it still applies in the social media age, as this 2017 paper on new news values proves. As Neville pointed out, it’s the type of content that triggers an emotional reaction, and it can now travel faster than ever through our (did)information sphere.

This brings us back to Facebook and its present and future challenges. In a recent blog post, Neville outlined some of the options for Facebook: perhaps there is a price to pay for a social platform free of advertising and monetising private data, and that perhaps many users would be willing to pay the subscription fees that such a service would entail?

At the same time, the story is undoubtedly ‘bigger than Facebook’. It goes to the heart of the prevailing social platform business model, where users enjoy a seemingly free service in return for their personal data, which the platforms sell to advertisers.

This is a big challenge for the traditional news media, as this study by the Columbia School of Journalism showed. It is now being discussed as an even bigger challenge, one that erodes the fabric of civic society through violations of privacy and large-scale manipulations of public opinion.

For some critical observers, this is a consequence of surveillance capitalism, the monetisation of user data in every aspect of our digital economy and society.

After a series of public relations blunders in recent weeks, Facebook is now taking steps not only to comply with GDPR, but also to address the growing twin problems of eroding trust within its user base, as well as a plunge in its share price (even more so after the FTC announced a probe into potential data handling violations). Investors are now discussing similarities to the banking crisis when it comes to regulation, legislation and possible litigation.

As the waves of scathing commentary continue about “How Facebook Blew It”, it is instructive to look more closely at the argument of users knowingly agreeing to terms and conditions.

It is as much of a cop-out as Facebook’s and Google’s argument as to why they can’t be treated as publishers (as Sam pointed out, the main reason is that they don’t want to be regulated as media companies).

In a talk at the London School of Economics in 2015, the philosophers Baroness Onora O’Neill and Jonathan Wolff discussed the concepts of informed consent and how, if done right, it contributes to the formation of trust.

Somebody should send it to Mark Zuckerberg.

Listen to episode 17:

Thomas Stoeckle is an independent business consultant and researcher in the fields of traditional and social media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in psychology and behavioural insights.

Until November 2017, Thomas led strategic business development at LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions (BIS). Prior to joining LexisNexis, he was group director and global analytics lead at W2O Group, and managing director at Report International (now CARMA).

A marketing communications researcher and business leader with 20-plus years’ experience in helping clients make sense of their global (social) media footprint, and how that affects perception and reputation, he believes passionately in meaning and insightful business story-telling through robust data evidence and compelling visualisation.

Originally from Germany, Thomas has been living and working in London for more than 16 years. A digital Neanderthal among digital natives, he is keenly aware that adequate solutions to communications problems demand fluency in the three languages of humans, machines, and business.

The post SDF Podcast 17 – “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it” appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/04/06/sdf-podcast-17-falsehood-flies-and-truth-comes-limping-after-it/feed/ 0 51945
For Immediate Release 130: Facebook’s Moments of Truth https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/27/for-immediate-release-130-facebooks-moments-of-truth/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/27/for-immediate-release-130-facebooks-moments-of-truth/#respond Tue, 27 Mar 2018 06:29:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/27/for-immediate-release-130-facebooks-moments-of-truth/ In this monthly episode of The Hobson & Holtz Report aka FIR 130, the major discussion surrounded Facebook and the growing crisis embroiling the social network over alleged misuse of data about users and their friends by the political consultancy and data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. Shel and I offered a plethora of opinion and […]

The post For Immediate Release 130: Facebook’s Moments of Truth appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
Facebook

In this monthly episode of The Hobson & Holtz Report aka FIR 130, the major discussion surrounded Facebook and the growing crisis embroiling the social network over alleged misuse of data about users and their friends by the political consultancy and data mining firm Cambridge Analytica.

Shel and I offered a plethora of opinion and considered some of the elements of this kerfuffle from a communicator’s perspective.

Other stories that made the discussion list in this episode included how Twitter now does not allow you to post identical tweets via multiple Twitter accounts; how Millennials are more prone to punish brands for scandals; Coca-Cola and the US State Department are to use blockchain to combat forced labour; Sierra Leone just ran the first blockchain-based general election; and more including Dan York’s Tech Report.

Full Run List:

  • Media Intelligence Minute from Carma
  • Twitter penalizes identical comment posted from multiple accounts. This is especially problematic for brands, and for scheduling tools like HootSuite and GaggleAmp. Via the HootSuite Blog and the Twitter Developer Blog.
  • Facebook: Still a terrible example of crisis communication
  • Igloo Software spot
  • Facebook, privacy, and scandal: stormy with a high chance of regulation. Neville thinks nothing will change at Facebook unless advertisers desert them in droves.
  • Jason Calacanis offers $100,000 seed money if your team can build a “Facebook-killer.”
  • Social Chorus spot
  • 28% of U.S. adults have stopped using a brand because of something negative they learned about in the news.
  • Speaking of CSR, Coca-Cola partners with the Blockchain Trust Accelerator to fight forced labor with smart contracts. Shel is enthusiastic about blockchain’s potential to create an immutable record of truth.
  • Dan York’s Tech Report: the 101st  meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force, TLS 1.3, Messaging Layer Security, and more Facebook.
  • Blockchain and voting

FIR 130

Listen Now:

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this episode:

(Photo at top by Tim Bennett on Unsplash)

The post For Immediate Release 130: Facebook’s Moments of Truth appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/27/for-immediate-release-130-facebooks-moments-of-truth/feed/ 0 51707
What next for Facebook? https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/25/what-next-for-facebook/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/25/what-next-for-facebook/#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 07:37:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/25/what-next-for-facebook/ Even if you’re not interested in nor a user of Facebook, you’d have been hard pressed indeed to have avoided the blaze of publicity about the social networking site every day this past week. That blaze has been white hot in its ferocity and intensity on alleged wrong-doing by the American firm, and by a […]

The post What next for Facebook? appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
Epic fail

Even if you’re not interested in nor a user of Facebook, you’d have been hard pressed indeed to have avoided the blaze of publicity about the social networking site every day this past week.

That blaze has been white hot in its ferocity and intensity on alleged wrong-doing by the American firm, and by a British political consulting and data mining company called Cambridge Analytica, over the mishandling of data related to more than 50 million users that allegedly played a significant role in influencing voter opinion in the US presidential election in 2016 (and the UK referendum on remaining in or leaving the European Union also in 2016).

As you’d expect, commentary, narratives and opinions embracing the widest spectrum of views and standpoints have dominated the media, both mainstream and social, all week as well. There’s so much of it, it’s hard to get a handle on the strands of a story that’s still evolving and which undoubtedly will be a major focus for governments (and regulators) as well as advertisers and Facebook users in the coming weeks and months.

A good place to see many of the different perspectives about the Facebook fail is Privacy-Gate, a Flipboard magazine by Ken Yeung, that curates in one place much of the reporting over the past week.

Lifting the Veil

While this kerfuffle continues to brew, I’ve been reading a great deal of the reports on this unfolding reputational train wreck and thinking about what might be next for Facebook.

I joined Facebook in April 2007. Unlike many friends and acquaintances whose opinions I value, I have no plans to shut down my account and leave. Actually, I have little invested in Facebook in terms of a wide network or community (I tend to engage in only a handful of niche groups that are private or closed), share little personal data and don’t do quizzes such as the type of quiz at the heart of the alleged mining of information of those 50 million users I mentioned earlier.

In a sense, it matters little to me whether I’m on Facebook or not, a sentiment shared by some albeit for many different reasons.

So what does this event mean for Facebook, the users, the advertisers, and the broad environment of social networks and networking?

One thing it means is that a veil has been lifted on what really goes on behind the scenes at Facebook with regard to information about its users that many (most?) users have had no idea of what actually happens to it. Sure, you’d know that Facebook shares info about you with advertisers – that’s the price you pay to enjoy the benefits of a platform that costs you nothing in money terms to use – as you did read the terms and conditions of use when you signed up, right?

Yet I don’t think many people knew the scope and scale of that information-sharing and the now-apparent cavalier way in which Facebook regarded data about its users, paying what now looks like lip service to any sense of a duty of care and safeguarding users’ rights to privacy.

It also means that we now see the kinds of companies Facebook has been getting into bed with, as it were – firms such as Cambridge Analytica that project a shiny veneer of respectability but are run by people with large egos and little in the way of ethical responsibility as Channel 4 News’ undercover video reporting, broadcast in the UK on March 19, so clearly shows.

Now that poor corporate behaviour is coming home to roost at Facebook as criticism of its very business model is growing especially in the US. Its share price has taken a pounding this past week, some investors are suing Facebook, and there are rumblings in Europe about greater oversight of the activities by social networks with the word ‘regulation’ rearing its head.

Opera-Snapshot_2018-03-24_221310_twitter

In an interview on CNN (transcript) on March 21, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg even talked about regulation, qualifying the idea with the word ‘maybe.’

Is regulation a next step for Facebook? An environment where social networks have to follow certain processes and procedures in each country in which it offers its platform to users, and to advertisers? How would that work, who would regulate Facebook, and how would regulatory infringements be punished and enforced? Plus many other questions.

The Price to Pay

Given that currently social networks of every type are not subject to a specific regulatory regime, perhaps the easiest way to take the regulation idea forward is to use an existing regulatory framework and classify Facebook and other social networks as subject to that regulatory framework.

Would the simplest way be to regard Facebook as a media company, no matter that Facebook (and Google and others) have consistently resisted that label? I believe Facebook and others are media companies in the same way that newspapers, magazines, radio and TV are media companies.  Let’s just use the word ‘media’ for everything: no need for phrases like ‘mainstream media’ or ‘social media’ any more. A topic for some debate, I suspect.

One other idea to explore – in tandem with the regulatory one not instead of it – is to make Facebook into a dual offer for users: a subscription service where you pay, say, $1 or £1 or €1 a week to access a service with no advertising at all; and a free service supported by advertising, much as we have now, but without the bad behaviours.

You might think such ideas are quite simplistic, naïve even. Yet I think these ideas ought to be aired and discussed at length. Social networks like Facebook are now part of the mainstream in contemporary society, offering a valuable means of social cohesion to many people.

So maybe the price for Facebook to pay to continue in business is some or all of the above.

The post What next for Facebook? appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/03/25/what-next-for-facebook/feed/ 2 51639
For Immediate Release 126:Is KFC FCK’d? https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/27/immediate-release-126-kfc-fckd/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/27/immediate-release-126-kfc-fckd/#respond Tue, 27 Feb 2018 07:21:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=51175 Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz get together for the February instalment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” aka For Immediate Release episode 126. The big topic in this episode is the plight of KFC in the UK and Ireland where the fast-food restaurant chain has been without its core ingredient – chicken – for weeks […]

The post For Immediate Release 126:<br />Is KFC FCK’d? appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>

Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz get together for the February instalment of “The Hobson & Holtz Report” aka For Immediate Release episode 126.

The big topic in this episode is the plight of KFC in the UK and Ireland where the fast-food restaurant chain has been without its core ingredient – chicken – for weeks as it is embroiled in a crisis that has seen more than half its restaurants in the two countries closed.

Two weeks on with the crisis still not fully resolved, KFC’s communication about what they’re doing to fix their supply chain and logistics dilemma has been a topic of much comment and analysis in the UK, with some describing the comms as “a masterclass in PR crisis management.” Is it? We weigh in with our opinions (and share others’).

Does the way people are using their smart audio devices present few opportunities for marketers? We offer some answers. We share some fundamental thoughts on why companies need to start communicating with their employees about their artificial intelligence plans. We consider new criteria for evaluating making Fortune’s list of the best companies to work for. And there is a legal ruling in a US federal court that embedded tweets could violate intellectual property rights. We’ve been down that road before.

There are comments from listeners Sheri Rosen, Tom Murphy, and Sallie Goetsch. Dan York’s Tech Report covers Mozilla Talk, the latest JetPack release, and Om Malik’s observations about Facebook from his podcast.

Listen Now

fir-126-promoart

Or download the MP3 file.

Links from this episode:

Links from Dan York’s Tech Report

The post For Immediate Release 126:<br />Is KFC FCK’d? appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/27/immediate-release-126-kfc-fckd/feed/ 0 51175
How to be a magazine publisher with Flipboard https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/26/magazine-publisher-flipboard/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/26/magazine-publisher-flipboard/#respond Mon, 26 Feb 2018 07:28:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=51139 In the summer of 2010, a new visual way of consuming news stories was launched for iOS mobile devices – especially the iPad which had been released a few months earlier – in the form of Flipboard, an aggregator app that brought together content from social media, news feeds, photo sharing sites and other websites, […]

The post How to be a magazine publisher with Flipboard appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
Flipboard

In the summer of 2010, a new visual way of consuming news stories was launched for iOS mobile devices – especially the iPad which had been released a few months earlier – in the form of Flipboard, an aggregator app that brought together content from social media, news feeds, photo sharing sites and other websites, and presented it in magazine format.

This highly-appealing visual communication tool became popular very quickly on iPads and iPhones, enabling users to “flip” through the articles, images and videos being viewed in the app, and share them across their social networks.

I discovered Flipboard when the company launched an app for Android devices two years later, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

The big appeal for me wasn’t using Flipboard purely as a method of consuming content in an attractive way, on my mobile devices as well as on the web (a version for the web was launched in early 2015).

It was also the ability to curate content into your own magazine and share that magazine with other people to read either in their Flipboad app or via the web. Anyone can do this by signing up for free with Flipboard.

So early on I created a digital magazine called Hobson’s Choice. (There’s a delightful history behind those two words; with a surname like mine, how could I choose any other title for such a magazine?)

Hobson’s Choice is designed to aggregate content that I find interesting covering a wide range of topics. I use it mostly as a bookmarking service, as a resource of content that I can refer to later and read at my leisure, share across my social networks, write a blog post about, research a topic, etc. It’s also an online publication anyone else can read on the web and add to their Flipboard list of magazines they follow in the app if they’d like to.

There are thousands of such Flipboard magazines, created by individuals like me as well as by companies, brands, media and more. For many such publishers, their motivations for creating a magazine are similar to mine. For others, it’s a way of educating people in a visually attractive way. For others still, especially brands, they are a very useful tool to build and nurture community around common interests.

In fact, the types of magazine you can create with Flipboard are potentially infinite.

A Next Level in Digital Magazine Publishing

In October 2017, Flipboard announced a new magazine publishing service that was entirely different to simply aggregating content from other Flipboard publications into your own Flipboard publication.

Instead, they offered the ability to create a magazine that you add content to by importing it directly via RSS feeds. That content can be from anything that has an RSS feed.

Getting started is simple:

To get started, create a profile, submit an RSS feed, and begin curating.

Flipboard Publishers

Perhaps not quite that simple – there is a review and approval process from when you apply which, if my experience is anything to go by, can take a while (I applied in October and got my approval to be a publisher just last week).

Why would I want to be such a publisher? you might be wondering.

Well, I saw it primarily as a means of extending the reach of my blog by offering it as a Flipboard magazine. You can already choose a variety of ways to get my content, from visiting the website, to seeing individual posts syndicated here and there, to subscribing to the RSS feed.

Now you have another choice – NevilleHobson.com on Flipboard.

I have some other ideas for what I might do with Flipboard, that may or may not make it to a state of fruition.

I suspect, though, that this programme will be especially attractive to an organization that wishes to take advantage of a digital publishing method that enables that organization to amplify its content and reach substantially, in a new and interesting way, via a platform that places great store in its technical best practice, its strong focus on the mobile web and support for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

And the RED Bolt Program, a performance mark that gives fast, reader-friendly websites more visibility on Flipboard:

The Reader Enhanced Display (RED) Bolt is awarded to publishers on Flipboard who are advancing the state of mobile reading through technologies that create a better experience for content on the mobile web. The RED Bolt will be shown next to a publisher’s articles in Flipboard and is used to indicate to users that the article they are about to open will load quickly and be free of ad windows that create an intrusive user experience.

Read more on Flipboard’s Publishers site. There’s a good Q&A as well. Then, sign up and try it out.

The post How to be a magazine publisher with Flipboard appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/26/magazine-publisher-flipboard/feed/ 0 51139
SDF Podcast 16 – Trust, communication clarity, balanced news and tech heretics https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/15/sdf-podcast-16-trust-communication-clarity-balanced-news-tech-heretics/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/15/sdf-podcast-16-trust-communication-clarity-balanced-news-tech-heretics/#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 07:37:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=50832 Yet again, the Three SDF Podcasteers Neville Hobson, Sam Knowles and Thomas Stoeckle tackle a range of related themes, from trust in society to clarity in corporate messages, global attitudes towards news, and Silicon Valley’s growing number of critical voices. This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds […]

The post SDF Podcast 16 – Trust, communication clarity, balanced news and tech heretics appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
3 businesswomen

Yet again, the Three SDF Podcasteers Neville Hobson, Sam Knowles and Thomas Stoeckle tackle a range of related themes, from trust in society to clarity in corporate messages, global attitudes towards news, and Silicon Valley’s growing number of critical voices.

This episode’s show notes were written by Thomas Stoeckle.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer finds China and the US poles apart, with the US in last place, experiencing its largest drop in the survey’s history, and China on top with the strongest gains among all 28 surveyed countries.

Now in its 18th year, the Barometer makes for an excellent chronicle of perceptions of trust around the world – and a time series that warrants more deep dive analyses, to glean insights, learn, and perhaps to lead to better informed decision-making.

Sam points to the fact that the top five most trusting societies presently are China, Indonesia, India, UAE and Singapore. Followed by the Netherlands, the first liberal western democracy on the list. In line with other societal trends (political opinions, values), trust is becoming more polarised.

We need to be clear what we talk about when we talk about trust. Baroness Onora O’Neill, eminent philosopher on trust, explained this in her 2013 TED talk (with more than 1.5m views to date): trust needs to be seen in context; requires an informed, intelligent assessment of trustworthiness. To earn trust, organisations (and individuals) need to be seen as competent, honest and reliable. This requires intelligible, trustworthy information from trustworthy sources.

Rachel Botsman‘s work on collaboration and trust (her 2012 TED talk on trust has been viewed 1.3m times) has some good pointers for how technological change and human development can be better aligned.  Accountability is a key theme. It is no surprise that Chris Hayes’s Twilight of the Elites features on her list of recommended reads.

The evidence from the Edelman Trust Barometer also points to a heterogeneous, multifaceted picture, with different contexts. However, there are some positive general trends: trust in experts is returning (which might surprise the Brexit-backing Mr Gove), as is trust in professional journalism.

Trust in business and in business leaders is going up, and this marks an opportunity to take the lead on topics people care about: almost two thirds of respondents said they no longer know how to tell good journalism from bad (or fake). Communicators must provide guidance, with clarity and factual accuracy.

Sam’s company Insight Agents analysed the clarity of corporate content of the UK’s leading FTSE50 businesses, and found a lot of room for improvement.

The recommendation: less jargon, more human stories, and don’t write by committee. By the way: communications giant WPP came a surprisingly low 29th in the rankings.

Neville found little surprise when reviewing the Pew Research Center’s global news study: people want balanced news, but often they distrust their local media. Views are most polarised in the U.S., which is borne out by a recent  Oxford Internet Institute study on the production and distribution of junk news. The study provides more evidence that the right, populist end of the political spectrum is more active and engaged with fake (or junk) news.

When it comes to addressing  and solving the problem, recent research – not least by the Society for New Communications Research of the Conference Board shows that marketers expect publishers, media companies and social media platforms to take the lead.

The challenges are manifold, and some of them have been written into the programmes and processes of the leading social media firms.

The Guardian’s story about the YouTube’s recommendation algorithms is a case in point. Whistleblowers such as Guillaume Chaslot (an ex YouTube engineer who conducted the data analytics behind the Guardian story) are helping to increase transparency.

There is a growing band of Silicon Valley heretics who are pushing for a more ethical approach to technology development.

One of its leaders is Tristan Harris, former design ethicist and product philosopher at Google (his 2017 TED talk on the ‘mindhacking’ of tech companies is approaching 2m views).

Together with other industry leaders, including Roger McNamee, Robert Lustig, Nir Eyal and others, he as founded the Center for Humane Technology, dedicated to  studying the individual and societal effects of technology. Together with Common Sense Media, they are launching the Truth About Tech Campaign, highlighting a growing addiction problem related to social media and smart device use.

On addiction and behaviour (change), our resident behavioural psychologist Sam talks about reward pathways and attentional pathway, dopaminergic reactions, and how social media use is related to other cravings – for sex, for chocolate, for drugs, etc.

In the work of Dr Robert Lustig, this all goes back to an unhealthy, media induced preference for pleasure over happiness.

As it happens, all three of us are ex smokers, and Neville points out that  behaviour change takes time. That reminds me how much successful influence and persuasion activities are related to appeals to the lower part of our brain stem. That remains the not very secret secret of social engineering: cue Edward Bernays and his 1929 Torches of Freedom campaign…

It is no coincidence that Tristan Harris, together with many other Silicon Valley luminaries (including Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger) is a student of behavioural psychologist BJ Fogg, founder and director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab) – something we will be discussing in more detail in our next episode.

Listen to episode 16:

Thomas Stoeckle is an independent business consultant and researcher in the fields of traditional and social media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in psychology and behavioural insights.

Until November 2017, Thomas led strategic business development at LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions (BIS). Prior to joining LexisNexis, he was group director and global analytics lead at W2O Group, and managing director at Report International (now CARMA).

A marketing communications researcher and business leader with 20-plus years’ experience in helping clients make sense of their global (social) media footprint, and how that affects perception and reputation, he believes passionately in meaning and insightful business story-telling through robust data evidence and compelling visualisation.

Originally from Germany, Thomas has been living and working in London for more than 16 years. A digital Neanderthal among digital natives, he is keenly aware that adequate solutions to communications problems demand fluency in the three languages of humans, machines, and business.

(Photo at top by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

The post SDF Podcast 16 – Trust, communication clarity, balanced news and tech heretics appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/15/sdf-podcast-16-trust-communication-clarity-balanced-news-tech-heretics/feed/ 0 50832
Values to live by according to John Perry Barlow https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/10/values-live-according-john-perry-barlow/ https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/10/values-live-according-john-perry-barlow/#respond Sat, 10 Feb 2018 08:07:00 +0000 https://www.nevillehobson.com/?p=50678 John Perry Barlow, one of the visionaries of the Internet in the 1990s and turn of the century, died on February 7. He was 70 years old. He was well known as co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation in the US. He was Fellow Emeritus at Harvard University’s […]

The post Values to live by according to John Perry Barlow appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
25principles

John Perry Barlow, one of the visionaries of the Internet in the 1990s and turn of the century, died on February 7. He was 70 years old.

He was well known as co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation in the US. He was Fellow Emeritus at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. And he was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame in 2013.

Barlow was equally if not more well known for his earlier career as a lyricist for the Grateful Dead 1960s rock group. Not only that, he was also an American poet and essayist, a cattle rancher, a cyber libertarian and a political activist.

He was a man who had a full life and lived it to the full on his terms. He deserves the accolades that have poured out since his death became known.

I particularly remember John Perry Barlow for his essay “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” published in 1996, which sets out a rebuttal to government of the Internet by any outside force, especially the United States.

I always felt that Barlow’s Declaration reflected the pioneering times of the development of the emerging Internet, and so appealed to me hugely (in an identical manner in which The Cluetrain Manifesto had such equal and huge appeal a short time later, in 1999).

John Perry Barlow

Time, though, mellows some outlooks and some of the sentiments in the Declaration look a little naïve today.

Another of his writings – written in 1977, simpler in sentiment and far more enduring – also has appeal to me and which I re-publish here in Barlow’s memory.

RIP, John Perry Barlow, you made a huge difference.

Principles of Adult Behaviour by JP Barlow

  1. Be patient. No matter what.
  2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
  3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
  4. Expand your sense of the possible.
  5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
  6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
  7. Tolerate ambiguity.
  8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
  9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
  10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
  11. Give up blood sports.
  12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
  13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
  14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
  15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
  16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
  17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
  18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
  19. Become less suspicious of joy.
  20. Understand humility.
  21. Remember that love forgives everything.
  22. Foster dignity.
  23. Live memorably.
  24. Love yourself.
  25. Endure.

Text via Kottke.org.

Image at top via Jen Carlson’s tweet.

jencarlson25tweet

The post Values to live by according to John Perry Barlow appeared first on Neville Hobson.

]]>
https://www.nevillehobson.com/2018/02/10/values-live-according-john-perry-barlow/feed/ 0 50678