Recent quotes:

Free content at Facebook

A neutral observer might wonder if Facebook’s attitude to content creators is sustainable. Facebook needs content, obviously, because that’s what the site consists of: content that other people have created. It’s just that it isn’t too keen on anyone apart from Facebook making any money from that content. Over time, that attitude is profoundly destructive to the creative and media industries. Access to an audience – that unprecedented two billion people – is a wonderful thing, but Facebook isn’t in any hurry to help you make money from it. If the content providers all eventually go broke, well, that might not be too much of a problem. There are, for now, lots of willing providers: anyone on Facebook is in a sense working for Facebook, adding value to the company. In 2014, the New York Times did the arithmetic and found that humanity was spending 39,757 collective years on the site, every single day. Jonathan Taplin points out that this is ‘almost fifteen million years of free labour per year’. That was back when it had a mere 1.23 billion users

Fire Writers, Make Videos Latest Web Recipe for Publishers | Digital - AdAge

Mic, a website aimed at millennials, used to employ 40 writers and editors producing articles on topics like "celebrating beauty" and "strong women." Ten were let go this month, with most in the revamped newsroom of 63 now focused on making videos for places like Facebook. Critics have called such moves "100 percent cynical" and out of sync with audience demand. Yet Americans are watching more video snippets online, either because they secretly like them or because they're getting harder to avoid. The growing audience for video, more valuable to advertisers than the space next to words, is causing websites to shift resources in what's become known across the industry as the pivot to video.

Ad targetting at Facebook

occasionally, if used very cleverly, with lots of machine-learning iteration and systematic trial-and-error, the canny marketer can find just the right admixture of age, geography, time of day, and music or film tastes that demarcate a demographic winner of an audience.

Variations in Facebook Posting Patterns Across Validated Patient Health Conditions: A Prospective Cohort Study. - PubMed - NCBI

Significantly correlated language topics among participants with the highest quartile of posts contained health terms, such as "cough," "headaches," and "insomnia." When adjusted for demographics, individuals with a history of depression had significantly higher posts (mean 38, 95% CI 28-50) than individuals without a history of depression (mean 22, 95% CI 19-26, P=.001). Except for depression, across prevalent health outcomes in the sample (hypertension, diabetes, asthma), there were no significant posting differences between individuals with or without each condition.

Two years after buying Elite Daily, the Daily Mail says the Facebook publisher is worthless - Recode

The owner of the Daily Mail, the publisher that bought Elite Daily in January 2015, says the New York-based startup has been a bust, and has written down all of its investment in the money-losing company, citing “poor performance.” It is taking a $31 million loss in the process. […] “audience retention and revenue growth have been disappointing and losses have exceeded expectations,” leading to the write-off.

Mike Butcher thinks Facebook is fried

Extremely close to giving up on Facebook as a place where any kind of rational debate can happen. That sounds extreme. Let me explain my thinking. The early days of Twitter were pretty good but that's all done now, and the limitation of 140 characters says it all. It's also full to the brim with trolls (as I found during the Referendum). Is use it as a way to announce things. It's very tough to have much of a debate on. Facebook allows for longer pieces but I've seen simple posts descend into multiple sub-threads of arguments. The trigger is now too easily pulled and I'm as guilty as anyone, because the medium is just too easy to hit post on. The 'original' social media was blogging. Someone would write a post which would appear in an RSS feed. Maybe there might be the ability to comment. But before comment platforms you had to reply with your own blog post, which would ping the original you were replying to. "Blog fights" like this would continue over days, perhaps weeks. The responses detailed and closely argued. The slowness afforded real thinking. Perhaps Medium is gradually getting there - at least you can follow people and read longer pieces which follow an argument. I may use their app more, come to think of it. When Ev created Medium I thought he was crazy. Now I'm starting to see the potential. As for myself I'm going to check myself from here on to TRY and reply in a slower, better thought out manner. I may save a post and reply when I'm on a desktop instead of trying to reply on a mobile which makes you want to get it out quickly and not think too hard. We live in very strange times now, and we (and I include myself) need to tack back towards rationality, civility and a kind of 'slow thinking' our ancestors possessed but which modernity has lost touch with.

Facebook adjusts News Feed to favor friends and family over publishers | The Verge

The technical change this time around is that Facebook will favor links shared by your friends and family over links that publishers place directly into the News Feed through their pages. The Verge will share this post on its Facebook page, but that will matter less than if large numbers of people paste this link into a new post on Facebook to share it with their friends directly.

Facebook's director of product design says you'll spend most of your life in 7 apps

You're going to spend a high percentage of time in seven applications — which seven is different for every person. Globally, Facebook is going to have a very high likelihood of being one of those seven, along with Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and others.

Publishers 'feeding on scraps from Facebook', says Bloomberg Media boss | Media | The Guardian

Newspapers, magazines and other publishers are “feeding on the scraps” of Facebook’s multibillion-dollar ad business despite playing a central role in keeping the social network’s users happy, according to the boss of Bloomberg Media. Justin Smith, chief executive of the financial information company’s publishing arm, told the Guardian that even though Facebook was sending traffic to publisher websites, it was making far more from ads in its news feed which was filled with publisher content. “They keep the $16bn to $18bn they get in the news feed, and the news feed, with personal sharing down, is effectively all of our content, it’s effectively just an aggregation of premium publishers’ content,” he said.

You can now share quoted text directly to Facebook | The Verge

Facebook is much more generous on that front — you can post updates of more than 60,000 characters there — but the company still sees plenty of screenshots anyway. Today it's introducing quote sharing, a feature developers can use to enable native sharing of quotes from their apps onto Facebook itself. Facebook is launching quote sharing with Amazon, which built quote sharing into its Kindle e-reader. Now instead of copying and pasting text from Kindle into Facebook, you can simply highlight it and share it to Facebook.

Google and Facebook go after Go

Google DeepMind employs more than 200 AI researchers and engineers. Over the 18 months or so it's spent on AlphaGo, the team ballooned from two or three people to 15, Hassabis said. "Go is a pretty sizable project for us," he said. DeepMind recently hired Matthew Lai, a London researcher who developed a system capable of playing chess at the grandmaster level. His software was able to reason in a way similar to how humans do, a more efficient method than IBM's attempt to crunch every possible outcome before making a move in the 1990s.

Facebook as mirror

They found that people who perceive Facebook as helpful in gaining a better understanding of themselves go to the site to meet new people and to get attention from others. Also, people who use Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of themselves tend to have agreeable personalities, but lower self-esteem than others. "They might post that they went to the gym. Maybe they'll share a post expressing a certain political stance or personal challenge they're facing. They rely on feedback from Facebook friends to better understand themselves," Ferris says. Ferris explains that some users observe how others cope with problems and situations similar to their own "and get ideas on how to approach others in important and difficult situations."

Facebook Open Sources Its AI Hardware as It Races Google | WIRED

Big Sur includes eight GPU boards, each loaded with dozens of chips while consuming only about 300 Watts of power. Although GPUs were originally designed to render images for computer games and other highly graphical applications, they’ve proven remarkably adept at deep learning. […]Traditional processors help drive these machines, but big companies like Facebook and Google and Baidu have found that their neural networks are far more efficient if they shift much of the computation onto GPUs. […] After 18 months of development, Big Sur is twice as fast as the previous system Facebook used to train its neural networks.

What's the 'real' context for friendship? (Is FB year round now?)

A commemorative friend is not someone you expect to hear from, or see, maybe ever again. But they were important to you at an earlier time in your life, and you think of them fondly for that reason, and still consider them a friend. Facebook makes things weird by keeping these friends continually in your peripheral vision. It violates what I’ll call the camp-friend rule of commemorative friendships: No matter how close you were with your best friend from summer camp, it is always awkward to try to stay in touch when school starts again. Because your camp self is not your school self, and it dilutes the magic of the memory a little to try to attempt a pale imitation at what you had.

Pre-ipo valuations

In March 2012, for instance, Facebook shares traded hands privately at $44.10 apiece. Two months later, when Facebook went public, the shares were priced at $38, and a week after that they were trading at less than $27. By August, they were less than $20. It wasn’t until more than a year later, in September 2013, that the share price finally traded higher than the $44.10 that it had been valued at in the private markets.

Frank Fairfield bows out on Facebook

One also gets pretty sick of being as mediocre a musician as I under the diligent scrutiny of all the banjo hangout bloggers in the blogosphere multiverse.

Ramifications of FB hosting news site's content

The company recognizes that the new plan[…]would remove the usual ads that publishers place around their content. […] allow publishers to show a single ad in a custom format within each Facebook article[…]The new proposal by Facebook carries another risk for publishers: the loss of valuable consumer data. When readers click on an article, an array of tracking tools allow the host site to collect valuable information on who they are, how often they visit and what else they have done on the web.That data might instead go to Facebook, which like many companies uses that information itself to target and track consumers more effectively for advertisers (and which has been subject to criticisms over its privacy policies). […]

Zuckerberg’s no Oprah: His book club is a dud

His first pick, Moisés Naim’s “The End of Power,” […] instantly sold out in many stores. […]sold over 13,000 copies, according to Publishers Weekly. The book club conversation took place online two weeks later on a Tuesday afternoon and resulted in only 175 comments. […] So out of 200,000 likes, where did all the readers and book buyers go?

Facebook ads can be counter productive

Some clever sleuthing by Derek Muller, proprietor of the science-focused YouTube channel Veritasium, determined that many Facebook ad clicks are worthless and, worse, that buying lots of Facebook love can significantly decreases the popularity of any content you subsequently post to Facebook.

Do Facebook Ads Work For Books?

Some clever sleuthing by Derek Muller, proprietor of the science-focused YouTube channel Veritasium, determined that many Facebook ad clicks are worthless and, worse, that buying lots of Facebook love can significantly decreases the popularity of any content you subsequently post to Facebook.

FB starts to "rent" audience access to businesses

Businesses used to own their consumer relationships through email or other in-house marketing channels, or to buy them from newspapers, television and other traditional media outlets through ads. “But Yelp and now Facebook are trying to peddle a third model, he says: “renting—in which a business can build a community but never own an audience on a platform.”
When the campaign was completed at the end of December, it was clear that it had failed on one goal: it had fallen well short of the 100,000 fans MegaRed wanted to add to its Facebook page.[…]During the eight-week campaign, 18.1 million women aged 45 and up saw at least one ad, according to Nielsen’s research. That was 56 percent of the target audience. The number who said they were now more likely to buy MegaRed rose by two percentage points.About one out of every 84 Facebook users who saw the ads liked, commented on or shared them — triple the rate of engagement with MegaRed’s previous ads. […]the campaign generated about twice as much revenue as R.B. spent on the ads, according to an analysis by Datalogix. That was better than R.B.’s historical return from TV ads, which the company measures once every year or two.[…] MegaRed also gained more than a percentage point of market share, with 9.2 percent of the dollar value of the heart-health market, based on R.B.’s analysis of IRI shopper data through Feb. 23. R.B. was also running TV ads, handing out samples and doing in-store marketing at the same time, but the company says the Facebook campaign contributed to the gains.
Wall Street firms led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc are close to buying a stake in chat and instant messaging startup Perzo Inc in pursuit of an alternative to a similar application from Bloomberg LP, sources familiar with Goldman's plans said. Banks are trying to cut costs as sluggish trading volumes and higher regulation weigh on revenues. Bloomberg has dominated messaging on Wall Street for years, but its application is part of a data, trading and news terminal that costs about $20,000 a year. The Perzo applications are free.
Revenue from advertising was $2.68 billion, a 67 percent increase from the same quarter in 2013, the firm said. Mobile advertising, which accounted for 62 percent of advertising revenue for the quarter, grew 30 percent from last year.
A case in point is Hearst Magazines, home to titles like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Marie Claire. Facebook is now the publisher’s No. 1 referral source, driving 25 percent of traffic, up from 4 percent a year ago, beating out even Google. For Cosmopolitan alone, it’s 44 percent, and for Harper’s Bazaar, it’s 59 percent. Across all publishers, Facebook drove 21 percent of traffic as of March, according to Sharaholic, which measures traffic across 300,000 sites.
Metafilter came from two or three internets ago, when a website's core audience—people showing up there every day or every week, directly—was its main source of visitors. Google might bless a site with new visitors or take them away. Either way, it was still possible for a site's fundamentals to be strong, independent of extremely large outside referrers. What's so disconcerting now is that the new sources of readership, the apps and sites people check every day and which lead people to new posts and stories, make up a majority of total readership, and they're utterly unpredictable (they're also bigger, always bigger, every new internet is bigger). People still visit sites directly, but less. Sites still link to one another, but with diminishing results. A site that doesn't care about Facebook will nonetheless come to depend on Facebook, and if Facebook changes how Newsfeed works, or how its app works, a large fraction of total traffic could appear or disappear very quickly. Of course a website's fortunes can change overnight. That these fortunes are tied to the whims of a very small group of very large companies, whose interests are only somewhat aligned with those of publishers, however, is sort of new. The publishing opportunity may be bigger today than it's ever been but the publisher's role is less glamorous: When did the best sites on the internet, giant and small alike, become anonymous subcontractors to tech companies that operate on entirely different scales?