Voices

Facebook’s Political Media Machine, and 5 Other Stories We’re Reading

Here’s what you missed while you were taking way too much pleasure in the fact that Rihanna can’t wink

The Ringer: Europe Is on a Mission to Tame Silicon Valley

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

Who’s excited to read about antitrust law?!

Before you scroll past this and read whatever Dillon chose (probably something about Facebook), give this story a chance. Europe is cracking down on Silicon Valley’s tech giants, and as The Ringer’s Victor Luckerson writes, we may soon see a very different internet in Europe than the one we have in the U.S.:

This is one of the many serious headaches that Silicon Valley giants have had to contend with in Europe over the past year. Tax havens are drying up. A “right to be forgotten” online movement has been enshrined into law. Privacy suits are popping up around the continent. All of it points to a future where the internet of the United States may not be the same as the one that’s across the pond. Does that mean European regulators are overextending their powers, or rather that American officials are turning a blind eye to theirs? The answer lies in both the legal code and the customs of the two continents.

Europe’s evolving privacy regulations are particularly fascinating, and they’re relevant to pretty much any marketers who target a European market. It may soon mean collecting data and analytics in two very different ways, depending on where the user is located. In the marketing and content technology space, this is one of the biggest stories to watch over the coming months.

Wired: Like. Flirt. Ghost.: A Journey Into the Social Media Lives of Teens

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

I was a teen in the mid- to late-2000s. I didn’t get my first smartphone until I was a junior in high school, and even then it felt more like an iPod Touch that could also make phone calls and text. So despite growing up in a time when the internet was integral to teenager’s lives, it was mainly on desktop computers and web browsers.

Things have changed dramatically since then. The domination of smartphones has ushered in a whole new era of communication. This Wired article looks at the habits of five teens to try to glean an idea of how this shift is changing teens’ everyday lives.

Throughout reading it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we’ve permanently augmented our bodies—that smartphones have become an extension of us and our realities. And teenagers, who know nothing else, are the ones who will really experience the effects—both good and good—of growing up in this brave new world.

The Wall Street Journal: Why Twitter Can’t Shake Its Harassment Problem

Selected by Nico Willson, editorial intern

In July, Milo Yiannopoulos—Breitbart editor and infamous troll—was banned for life from Twitter after sending a series of harassing tweets to actress Leslie Jones (and encouraging others to do the same).

What counts as crossing the line on social media? Social platforms have always been a haven for harassment, but it seems Twitter is having a harder time than its rivals monitoring user behavior. This article sheds lights on Twitter’s design and its struggle to find the balance between a platform for free speech and one that can identify and remove harassment.

Digiday: 2.2 billion views: How NBCU and BuzzFeed scored on Snapchat during Rio Olympics

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

The worst-case scenario came true for NBC’s TV ratings of the Olympics this summer, which saw a 17 percent dip in ratings compared to London 2012. At the same time, though, BuzzFeed (which received $200 million in funding from NBC in 2015) and NBCUniversal scored big on Snapchat.

Digiday dove deep into the partnerships, exploring Snapchat content that focused on the Olympic Village ambiance and the less-competitive sides of athletes in Rio (like Michael Phelps face-swapping with other Olympians).

There are a few interesting narratives at play here. Are people more interested in seeing a different side of athletes than watching the events themselves? What does this mean for advertisers, as engagement continues to rise on mobile? One thing is for sure: No single medium owns an event anymore—even a televised landmark like the Olympics.

The New Yorker: Ryan Lochte and the Impatience of Corporate Sponsors

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Ryan Lochte, the bro-est of Olympic bros, was allegedly making $1 million in endorsements per year. “Was” being the key word. Once the news broke that he lied about being robbed at gunpoint during the Olympics, the media narrative quickly shifted away from the gas station covered in urine, focusing instead of how Lochte’s sponsors would react. It took less than a week for them to drop him.

This New Yorker article may be short—four paragraphs—but it packs in a lot of really sharp analysis about the reasons brands sponsors are cutting ties quicker than ever with athletes stuck in scandal. If you make money playing a sport, there’s never been a worse time to get caught being dumb in public.

The New York Times Magazine: Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine

Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Facebook controlling the news, and it won’t be the last. But John Herrman’s New York Times Magazine piece differs from the usual narrative of publishers’ dependency on Facebook. Instead, Herrman focuses on a new breed of “Facebook-native political pages.”

As Herrman explains, “Unburdened of any allegiance to old forms of news media and the practice, or performance, of any sort of ideological balance, native Facebook page publishers have a freedom that more traditional publishers don’t: to engage with Facebook purely on its terms.”

For those still wondering why they should care and if this will actually affect the election, Herrman sums it up in one terrifying sentence: “Facebook’s primacy is a foregone conclusion, and the question of Facebook’s relationship to political discourse is absurd—they’re one and the same.”

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