Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

Separating truth from fiction about Facebook

Anthony De Rosa
Mar 5, 2013 19:45 UTC

There’s a lot of inaccurate information out there about the way Facebook is promoting posts from people who pay for it. Some of this misinformation comes from writers using their experiences as an example of how things happen to everyone on Facebook, not realizing they’re different than many other people on the service or other people who use the “follow” option (formerly known as “subscribe.”) There’s also an unfortunate tendency to not check facts with Facebook. 

We should not take Facebook at its word but we should at least give it a chance to explain how it sets the rules. We can judge for ourselves how honest they’re being. It’s far worse to assume. This isn’t an entirely new thing for Facebook, Sponsored Stories were rolled out back in January of 2011. This resurfaced because of an article by Nick Bilton at the New York Times who suddenly seemed to notice his Facebook posts were not seeing the same number of comments, likes and shares as they once did. (Update 3/6: Nick does cite Facebook’s statement that although “people who have more than 10,000 subscribers is up 34 percent from a year ago” they also admitted to him ”there has been a 2 percent drop in interaction on the news feed.”)

Misconception #1: Sponsored/Promoted Content is replacing organic content on Facebook I spoke to Vadim Lavrusik, Facebook’s journalism program manager. Here’s what he told me:

“One important thing to understand is that when someone promotes a post in feed and pays to promote it, the stuff that’s getting distribution organically still gets distribution, it doesn’t get replaced from feed. It may get a lower placement, but it doesn’t get replaced. And the placement of the sponsored post or promoted post is also based on the quality of that post (so promoted content still has a quality algorithm attached to it.) If the promoted post isn’t that good, it gets lower placement, but it will get more distribution either way because it’s being paid for, but it’s still takes quality into account.

The claim that I’ve seen explains it as if these paid posts replace organic posts, which isn’t the case. The News Feed algorithm is separate from the advertising algorithm in that we don’t replace the most engaging posts in News Feed with sponsored ones.”

Most people don’t care about their digital privacy

Anthony De Rosa
Dec 17, 2012 20:28 UTC

Most of us simply don’t care about our digital privacy. Sure, you see people citing their displeasure every time Facebook changes their terms of service, but with more than a billion users, few actually leave. Today, Instagram took a chance on its own privacy policy, betting that people will treat its service the same way. Instagram now will feature advertising on its mobile application that uses your name, likeness and content, tracks your location and shares the data with Facebook.

The geek chorus is again warming up its pipes. However, I doubt that many will bother to stop taking fauxstalgically filtered photos of every waking moment.

Here are the key additions from Instagram:

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

You don’t own your hashtag

Anthony De Rosa
Nov 28, 2012 22:37 UTC

Today the Obama administration unveiled a hashtag “#My2k” to push their “fiscal cliff” message that if middle-class tax cuts aren’t extended, middle-income families will lose $2,000 of income a year. Soon after, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation purchased the following sponsored tweet that appears at the very top of any search for #My2K:

Below the sponsored tweet are people of all political affiliations and sides of the issue tossing in their two cents. Here’s a sample:

Where social media fails

Anthony De Rosa
Oct 19, 2012 18:37 UTC

I’ve been thinking a lot about my use of social media and how helpful it is in informing the people who consume it. This election season has particularly made me think more critically about how sometimes the short, context-less text updates can lead to a poorly informed public. I’m certainly not the first person to realize this, as Craig Kanalley recently wrote in detail. People increasingly latch on to the latest minutiae of the campaign, the Big Bird, the binders, the memes, which have little relevance to the actual issues that matter: employment, foreign policy, the expanding income gap, so on and so forth. Here’s what we plan to do to improve the signal to noise ratio.

    Focus my updates on more short, rapid-fire networks like Twitter on doing fact checks, linking to substantive articles about issues related to how the candidates will govern: economy, taxes, social issues, etc. Find flaws in the arguments of both candidates with detailed pieces that point out where they have either been too opaque or flat out lied. Engage with people all over the political spectrum to start a dialogue and understand what they care about. It is “social media” after all and I see many people who are supposed “social media editors” who never engage their readers. Spend more time live blogging, which allows for longer posts and rich media

The Elections 2012 live blog format gives us the room to provide context that you may not be getting from Twitter and Facebook. I’ve put together a number of lists that might also be helpful, which I try to update as much as possible:

Rupert Murdoch’s best tweets of all time

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 28, 2012 12:49 UTC

[View the story "Best @RupertMurdoch tweets of all time" on Storify]
Best @RupertMurdoch tweets of all time

Storified by Anthony De Rosa · Mon, May 14 2012 12:38:49 Rupert Murdoch posted his first tweet on December 31st, to the surprise of many who could hardly believe he would take to the social media service to share his thoughts. He’s been prolifically tweeting ever since, compiling 295 tweets in the last five months. These are some of our favorites. Rupert’s first tweet Have just. Read The Rational Optimist. Great book.Rupert Murdoch Some of his greatest tweets are the most inane ones. You could make the case that this is simply a sponsored tweet. I LOVE the film "we bought a zoo", a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film.Rupert Murdoch He’ll take to patting himself on the back. Just for the record: Newscorp shares up 60c on news of Sun on Sunday. Highest for year.Rupert Murdoch You can almost imagine Montgomery Burns tweeting this. NY cold and empty, even central park. Nice!Rupert Murdoch Unafraid to tweet his political opinions, he’s gone and shared his two cents about Obama and the GOP candidates throughout the race. Paul too extreme, but right to draw attention toFed. Printing zillions can only cause inflation – the coward’s way out of this mess.Rupert Murdoch Obama seems to agree with consensus view obamacare going down. Bullying supremes silly. People trust judges over politicians any time.Rupert Murdoch While Obama feeling courageous, why not follow his first class education policy. US’ absolute biggest crisis. No read, no write, no jobs.Rupert Murdoch Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monoplies.Rupert Murdoch Santorum"Romney looks like well oiled weather vane". Plenty of company, but not POTUS.Rupert Murdoch POTUS seems in deep trouble with all religious groups. "worship" not the same thing as religion.Rupert Murdoch He’s frequently weighed in on the American economy. Economists state Americans in real terms grew 700 per cent in last 100 years by tech inventions – electricity, cars, stainless steel etc.Rupert Murdoch Unemployment: US official figures greatly underestimate real situation plus millions with part time jobs.Rupert Murdoch He’s often criticizing Britain for an “entitlement culture” UK entitlement society. No wonder rich layabouts contribute nothing when immigrants work harder better. Honest Brits work and resent system.Rupert Murdoch Don’t hate Britain, quite the reverse. But whole of Europe and US facing huge financial and social problemsRupert Murdoch What happened to "land of hope and glory" New poll today shows 48 percent of Brits would like to emigrate.Rupert Murdoch UK. What’s wrong? Over educated snobs sneering at underclass, giving no help to upping education standards. See Gove today.Rupert Murdoch New British proposal. Only immigrants earning 35000 allowed in. After tax equal to many people living on welfare maybe not seeking work.Rupert Murdoch At times, he appears frustrated by the lack of civilized debate. Perhaps he’s not following the right people? Seems impossible to have civilised debate on twitter. Ignorant,vicious abuse lowers whole society, maybe shows real social decay.Rupert Murdoch He’s opined about Facebook and it’s role in media. With Internet no such thing as monopoly media. Ask Zuckerberg.Rupert Murdoch Critical of his peers in media. Looking at Arianna H self portrait. Aren’t we all evangelists? If we don’t propagate our beliefs why bother thinking?Rupert Murdoch Austerity is a theme throughout his tweets. Economic problems made by waves of politicians making impossible promises. Now the bills are arriving .Rupert Murdoch Social fabric means all. Must wake up before coming apart more. That includes closing tax loopholes for rich people and companies.Rupert Murdoch Governments worldwide have borrowed 100 trillion last ten years. Defaults inevitable sometime soon. Means crash, hurting rich and poor.Rupert Murdoch Sometimes reflective and philosophical. "all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn". H.G. WellsRupert Murdoch He’s only retweeted once and it was for his Wall Street Journal sister publication for tech, All Things D. Cinemagram App Sees Quick Growth for Artsy Animated Photos -by @LizGannes http://dthin.gs/Iu5wlXAll Things D He’s excited by technology and what it means for the future. Now we on cusp of new wave of tech transformations to beat last century growth. Big data,smart manufacturing and wireless. Exciting !Rupert Murdoch Tweets regarding Cameron are always interesting in context of how he’s been accused of a cozy relationship between the paper and the UK government. He’s mentioned Rebekah Brooks as well. Cameron should have just followed history and flogged some seats in the Lords, if they still have value! precedents of centuries .Rupert Murdoch Now they are complaining about R Brooks saving an old horse from the glue factory!Rupert Murdoch

A version of this appears on page 23 of the June 2012 issue of Reuters Magazine

Why is @Reuters yelling at me?

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 22, 2012 15:22 UTC

We conducted a survey of our @Reuters followers recently, and asked them this:  sometimes the Reuters wire publishes alerts in ALL CAPS, usually when the news is urgent.  Should we run them in uppercase and lower case on Twitter, as we would for normal conversation? What is more important?

The answer choices were: a) Receiving accurate news quickly even if that news is delivered in an “all caps” tweet or b) I’d like news to be reformatted from “all caps” before being sent, even if it takes longer.

At the time of this post, we received 1181 responses, 77 percent were in favor of “all caps,” while 23 percent were opposed.

Syria al-Shaab manages to broadcast under fire

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 11, 2012 23:25 UTC

Using a combination of in-studio anchors and citizens piped in from Skype reporting directly from the ground, Syria al-Shaab manages to broadcast 12 hours of live programming a day from a country that won’t allow foreign reporters in.

“They hacked into our Skype account about a week ago and sent a virus to all the contacts in it. Every time they do something like that, we know we are doing our jobs” said Summer Ajlouni, founder of Syria al-Shaab in a report by Dan Rather of HDNet.

The channel exists underground. The Syrian regime, according to the broadcasters, is watching, they’ve tried to shut down their satellite broadcasts and jam their Skype contacts, but it has only made the tiny outfit want to do more.

Amid top team departures, foursquare pushes past the “check in”

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 7, 2012 16:07 UTC

Social location app foursquare has released a completely redesigned version that attempts to shift from making “checking in” the focus to discovering places to go, things to do and events to see.

In their third year, the company has faced some losses at the top of their team, including their head of talent acquisition, a top business development colleague, and their co-founder. Founder and CEO Dennis Crowley discusses the shakeup and the departure of co-founder Naveen Selvadurai.

Aereo and Skitter attempt to disrupt traditional televison

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 7, 2012 15:55 UTC

Two startups are trying to disrupt the traditional television model. One of them, Aereo, has been taken to court by the incumbent networks. The other, Skitter has made deals with the content providers they’re rebroadcasting. Here’s a look at both in the latest Tech Tonic.

Facebook buys Instagram for a billion, releases their own inferior photo app

Anthony De Rosa
May 24, 2012 18:09 UTC

Facebook is launching a stand-alone photo sharing mobile application. This comes weeks after the social network bought Instagram for a billion dollars.

Someone please explain to me why this makes sense.

Here’s why I ask. Instagram, after its 2010 launch, quickly became the most popular photo sharing application on mobile devices. After the acquisition, many users feared that Facebook would ruin the Instagram app. Until now, Facebook has left the product alone. That was a wise move.

And now comes along this new mobile app, called “Facebook Camera.” In almost all aspects, it’s an inferior product to Instagram. The interface is clumsy; the filters are not as good; the product feels like something someone developed long before Instagram and was crushed out of existence.

  •