Voices

Pocket’s Next Frontier, and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while you were trying to put together a last-second David S. Pumpkins costume

ProPublica: Facebook Lets Advertisers Exclude Users by Race

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

Facebook can’t seem to escape criticism lately, and it’s largely the company’s own doing. This investigation from ProPublica, revealed that Facebook’s core sell to advertisers—its detailed targeting system—is also potentially breaking federal law regulating housing discrimination.

Running housing ads meant to exclude black people and other racial minorities is a longstanding and pernicious practice, and Facebook’s targeted advertising seems to makes it easy. There are “ethnic affiliation” categories, which Facebook says is not a one-to-one for race, but tellingly falls under the “demographics” tab (though Facebook says it plans to move it). Facebook also claims there’s oversight, but provide any specific details. ProPublica had a discriminatory ad approved in 15 minutes.

It’s just the latest sign that Facebook’s method of operation is grow first, fix things later. That may help make VCs and founders absurdly wealthy, but there’s no doubting that the growth obsession can lead to damaging mistakes, both for a company’s reputation an the users affected by their oversights.

Fast Company: Pocket’s Next Frontier: Solving The Internet’s Clickbait Problem

Selected by Kieran Dahl, social media editor

I have a love–hate relationship with Pocket, which Fast Company deems—fairly, I think—“a glorified bookmark service.”

The love part is obvious: It lets me save great articles to read whenever I want, even making them accessible offline. The hate part is that it’s lacked a recommendation engine to surface content similar to the hundreds of articles I’ve already saved. Pocket’s expanded business plan appears to address this curation issue, but with its growth comes problems—namely how it will handle algorithmic curation, which, as Facebook has proved, can create polarizing digital echo chambers.

I’ll keep using Pocket religiously no matter what, but I may start wondering whether all that’s recommended to me only reinforces everything I already read. The informative, ideologically open web, it seems, is still a myth.

The Drum: ‘You were on top of the world and now it’s over’: Vine star Jason Nash weighs in on the final days of Twitter’s video platform

Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager

Imagine spending years building over a million followers on a video platform, only to have it taken away due to a company’s change in direction. For Vine star Jason Nash, it’s an unfortunate, unwanted graduation as he’s forced to shift his creative efforts to other video platforms. While Snapchat and Instagram could be lucrative options, they simply have a different hook to their content that Vine stars may have trouble perfecting. If anything, attempted migrations from Vine will serve as an example of the challenges in keeping an audience.

The Ringer: Vine Was Too Pure for This World

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

I remember the day Vine came out. I was in the Miami airport waiting to head back to New York after a weekend spent in my grandpa’s retirement community. It mostly involved eating dinner at 4 p.m. while having very long, uncomfortable conversations about sexual dysfunction medication. I needed to escape my thoughts and feel like a trendy #contentcreator, so I downloaded Vine.

I filmed myself jumping over the chairs that surrounded the gate while a bemused United flight attendant looked on. It was a poor attempt at the type of frantic, quick-cut comedy that would dominate the platform, propelling teenagers like Jake Paul to stardom. The Ringer, to no surprise, offers the perfect eulogy for the social network. It may have died in a world dominated by BIG SOCIAL, but it lives on in our hearts.

The New Yorker: What Barnes & Noble Doesn’t Get About Bookstores

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

The best way to sum up Barnes & Noble is: It’s survived. That’s partially a compliment. Amazon should’ve put it out of business by now, right?

But, as David Sax points out in The New Yorker, that moral victory only means so much. Barnes & Noble may be surviving, but it still doesn’t have a clear direction. The company continues to shuffle in new CEOs, and now it may try to resemble the smaller, independent bookstores that it used to push out of business.

Can a new identity work for a brand that profits off of scale? As Sax put it: “To run six hundred and thirty-eight stores, most the size of several independent bookstores, you need standardization, in everything from design and selection to the clothes employees wear. […] Every industry needs its standard-bearer, just as the third-wave coffee shops need their Starbucks to rebel against.”

Image by Unsplash / CC Zero
Tags: