How Google & Facebook Censor Content & Demonetize Independent Media

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#1
While scanning numerous news websites, I'm coming across more complaints on censorship being instigated by Google, Facebook and YouTube. Are they undermining the very platforms - that they first initiated - that built up a user base and ultimately thrust them into mega million dollar businesses?

How Google & Facebook Censor Content & Demonetize Independent Media
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z5N65WLeWg (19:24 min.)

Published on Nov 29, 2017

Josh Sigurdson talks with author and economic analyst John Sneisen about the constant demonetization of WAM's (World Alternative Media) content on YouTube as well as censorship on Facebook.

Recently, countless videos of ours have been dramatically demonetized. Apparently they're unsuitable for advertisement, yet YouTube advertises on the videos anyways and takes all the money themselves.

The content is flagged as "hate speech" and it becomes impossible for creators to make money despite working in our case 18 hours a day to provide hard hitting information, content and interviews with people across the board. All while the battle for information heats up and people leave the mainstream media in droves.

At the same time, Facebook has banned us from sharing our content in any groups on the social media site which has drastically diminished our ability to market our content. We are making the same if not less money putting out content with 40,000 subscribers than we did at 1000 subscribers.

There's a recent claim that Google has fixed the "bug" affecting monetization, but what has really happened is that you can send your video for review which takes 7 or more days to review after it hits 1,000 views and by the time it's remonetized, the views are no longer coming in at a fast rate cutting down a good 95% of the revenue.

Considering Google has taken billions in tax payer dollars, it's far from a private company at this point.

This is why we depend on our viewers to help us get through this. All independent media does. It's not that advertisers don't want to advertise on our content, it's that they're unable to due to crazy rules by the information giant that owns the YouTube platform. And it would take billions to be able to compete with YouTube.


Google is going on a hiring spree to try to stamp out offensive videos and comments on YouTube.
Google Is Hiring 10,000 Reviewers To Clean Up YouTube December 5, 2017
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/12/05/google-is-hiring-10000-reviewers-to-clean-up-youtube/

The company is recruiting thousands of reviewers to reduce the amount of “problematic content” on its video platform. It’s also introducing tougher restrictions on advertising and making greater use of smart technology.

By 2018, Google aims to have more than 10,000 people “working to address content that might violate our policies,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a blog post. She did not say how many people currently monitor YouTube for offensive videos.

“Some bad actors are exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm,” Wojcicki said, adding that YouTube’s trust and safety teams have reviewed nearly 2 million videos for violent extremist content over the past six months.

“We are also taking aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether,” she said.

YouTube has grappled with a series of controversies this year concerning videos available on its platform. It was forced to adopt additional screening measures last month on its kid-friendly platform, YouTube Kids, after reports showed many of the videos there contained profanity and violence.

Companies such as Etihad Airways, Marriott and Deliveroo pulled their advertisements in June — as did the U.K.’s Labour Party — after finding they were appearing alongside videos made by a hate preacher.

Wojcicki said YouTube was taking a “new approach to advertising,” with more manual curation, stricter criteria for videos eligible to show ads, and a greater number of ad reviewers.

“We want advertisers to have peace of mind that their ads are running alongside content that reflects their brand’s values,” she said. “Equally, we want to give creators confidence that their revenue won’t be hurt by the actions of bad actors.”

The company isn’t just banking on more human intervention, however. Its machine learning algorithms have helped remove more than 150,000 videos from YouTube since June that depict violent extremism.

Wojcicki said 180,000 people would have had to work 40 weeks to assess the same amount of content.

“Because we have seen these positive results, we have begun training machine-learning technology across other challenging content areas, including child safety and hate speech,” she added.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#2
YouTube's decision to hire 10,000 staff to monitor violent extremism on its video sharing platform is not the way to go, Dr. Gilbert Ramsay, author and lecturer in International Relations at the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV), told Sputnik.

New YouTube Recruits to Monitor Online Extremist Propaganda 'Wrong Approach'
https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201712061059751054-youtube-staff-extremism-videos/

Digital and social media platforms have been accused of facilitating and promoting radicalization propaganda after it emerged extremist videos on YouTube could be viewed alongside paid for banner adverts.

The company was forced to publicly apologize after a number of high profile companies withdrew their advertising contracts with the Internet giant.

​Dr. Gilbert Ramsay told Sputnik the recruitment of 10,000 people isn't necessarily the right solution.

"If you are on the way to being radicalized watching beheading videos may play a part in your radicalization — but to the average person, it's not going to do that. The most horrendous content shouldn't be accessible. It's not hard to argue a gruesome beheading video, should be available to watch. The problem isn't content, it's about context."

Bad Actors - Susan Wojcicki, chief executive of YouTube said: "bad actors are exploiting YouTube to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm. We will continue the growth of our teams, with the goal of bringing the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000 in 2018."

YouTube has already said it has terminated 50 channels and removed thousands of videos and advertisements from 500,000 exploitative videos.

"This stuff is so contextual, content providers regulating it at speed is the wrong approach. We're often told the internet is a phenomenon where radicalization is rapid and unpredictable; but actually it's remarkable how rare it is for people carrying out the attacks, not to be on the intelligence radar," Dr. Ramsay told Sputnik.

​Dr. Ramsay's comments follow the recent revelation the Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi had twice been a "subject of interest" in MI5 investigations before the attack took place in May 2017. Fresh intelligence had been received on Abedi in the months leading up to the attack which killed 23 people but its "significance was not fully appreciated at the time."

Who's to Blame? - Earlier this year Facebook announced it would hire around 4,000 more staff to address extremist content. However, Dr. Ramsay believes there needs to be a more "holistic" approach to tackling online radicalization and suggests targeting Internet giants isn't the answer.

"The Internet plays a role, social networks are crucial, but you need a holistic understanding of the issue — radicalization happens in a broader context. There is a tendency for governments to blame their own failures on companies like YouTube."

The academic believes it is a "convenient source of blame," but instead UK PM Theresa May should be more aggressive in pursuing tax avoidance and use the funds to build a "more holistic response to radicalization than her current aggressive stance towards content providers."

"Extremists can mean a lot of different groups and ideologies. The problem is it's always difficult to define what exactly extremist content is," Dr. Ramsay concluded.


Despite RT and Sputnik News conceding to US demands to register as foreign agents, Google has announced its intention to "de-rank" their articles, in a bid to reduce the exposure and reach of content published on both sites. Russia's foreign ministry subsequently warned such a move would constitute censorship.
New Era of Censorship Isn’t Limited to Russian Outlets
https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201712061059724439-censorship-direct-threat-democracy/

At this point, it's unclear if other US search engines are also considering similar measures.

Given Google's market monopoly — some sources suggest the tech giant accounts for over 90 percent of all search engine traffic — the restriction of Sputnik and RT content in its search results is undoubtedly a major blow to net neutrality.

As free and unimpaired access to information is a cornerstone of democracy, and since the internet is contemporarily the largest, most-readily available hub of information, it's unsurprising Google's announcement has been dubbed an attack on democracy, and triggered an outcry.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised concerns over the economic implications of weakening net neutrality, while vowing to defend it.

I am very concerned about the attacks on net neutrality. Net neutrality is essential for small businesses [and] for consumers. It's essential to keep the freedom associated with the internet alive. The idea of throttling certain sites or charging extra for certain services just does not make sense if we are going to continue to ensure technology, particularly digital technology, is the lever to create economic growth and opportunities for citizens right across this country. We need to continue to defend net neutrality and I will," Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said.

The attacks against Russian media outlets were prompted as a result of the wide-scale hysteria over Russia's alleged meddling in the US Presidential election. The evidence supporting these claims is, at best, insipid and unconvincing.

Meanwhile, it recently transpired an editor at the Daily Express instructed a journalist to take an anti-Labour stance, urging him to "put the boot into Corbyn."

Not a single search engine has announced plans to de-rank any content published by the Daily Express — not even just articles on UK politics, or content related to the Labour party.

It's not just search engines who are selectively censoring content — YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have also been accused of restricting or suspending accounts expressing alternative, non-extremist views.

YouTube apparently demonetized several channels and videos after advertisers boycotted the platform over concerns their ads were appearing alongside videos peddling extremist views, or containing hate speech. However, many channels and videos which complied with YouTube's user and content guidelines were also purged, or demonetized.

Twitter and Facebook have also been suspending or terminating more and more accounts, often without any explanation, and limited options to appeal the decision.

"Recently, my Facebook account with 70,000 followers was deleted without any explanation. My last post was a video of the Kurdistan referendum election fraud. When I made a video about the censorship on my YouTube channel, that video was also flagged and censored," prominent YouTuber Mimi Al-Laham told Sputnik.

Such censorship on social media and the wider internet is pushing users towards alternatives, such as VK, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex.

With regards to the allegations of Russian interference in the US election, they are nothing more than a blatant attempt to delegitimize Donald Trump's election as US President, and deflect blame over Hillary Clinton's failed election campaign.


The decree has been prepared by the committee on control and regulations in response to the actions of the US authorities regarding Russia media outlets, specifically, the demand that cable TV broadcaster RT register as a "foreign agent" and its subsequent loss of Congressional accreditation.
Russian Parliament's Lower House Bans Entry to US 'Foreign Agent' Media - Decree
https://sputniknews.com/russia/201712061059742522-russia-duma-foreign-agents/

On Wednesday, the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, adopted a decree banning entry to media outlets which have been designated "foreign agents."

"[It has been proposed] to ban representatives of the US media outlets designated 'foreign agents' and carrying out the functions of a 'foreign agent', from entering the State Duma," the decree said.

The decision will come into force immediately after its signing by State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin. At the same time, the deputies stated that restrictive measures could be lifted if the relevant decisions on the pressure on Russian media in the US were abolished.

Media outlets designated as "foreign agents" in Russia, should mark their output and be cited accordingly, State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy stated.

The law on the "foreign agent" designation was introduced in Russia in response to the treatment of Russian media outlets in the United States, in particular, the demand that RT register as a "foreign agent."


Last week PJ Media D.C. editor Bridget Johnson was suspended from Twitter with no warning or explanation. It's been nearly a week now and thus far Twitter has yet to offer a reason for the suspension.
PJ Media Editor, a Veteran Journalist and Terror Expert, Removed from Twitter December 3, 2017
https://pjmedia.com/trending/pj-media-editor-veteran-journalist-terror-expert-removed-twitter/

According to Twitter's Help Center, there are two types of suspension — a temporary timeout that results in reinstatement in a matter of hours, and a second, much more serious "permanent" suspension. Bridget's appears to be the latter. The company did not flag a particular tweet that was problematic and her request for an appeal has gone unanswered.

While many Twitter users engage in abusive behavior on the platform, Bridget does not. Nor does she brawl with other users or engage in flame wars.
She's a veteran journalist who, prior to joining the PJM team, worked at The Hill, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has also been published at USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico, the New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, the New York Observer, The Washington Times, and RealClearWorld. Bridget is a respected terror analyst and is known for her fact-based, impartial reporting.

So why was she suspended from Twitter? That remains a mystery. Hundreds of Twitter users have tweeted their support for her, expressing their astonishment that she was summarily removed from the platform without explanation.

According to Twitter, accounts can be suspended if they are "spammy" or fake, or if they pose a security risk. They also ban "abusive tweets or behavior. " Abusive behavior, Twitter explains, includes promoting violence, suicide, self-harm, or child exploitation.
A quick perusal of cached tweets from Bridget's account demonstrates that she's not a spammer, and Twitter has not given any indication that she was removed from the platform due to security risks. So that leaves the nebulous category of "abusive tweets or behavior." Bridget doesn't engage in any of the banned behaviors, but it is possible that she was targeted by groups or individuals who reported her to administrators, hoping to silence her.

Twitter is an important resource for journalists, and the inability to network with sources and other journalists and to keep up on breaking news stories severely inhibits Bridget's ability to do her job. Twitter owes her an explanation for the suspension of her account — and an apology for their erroneous decision to remove her from the platform. While Twitter is a private company, the seemingly arbitrary decision to suspend a legitimate journalist raises serious questions about the immense power they have to silence individuals or even entire groups of people.


If you’re not up to date with the politically correct lingo, you should know that the concept of protected classes was created by leftists and it’s pretty much similar with the notion of identity politics. Basically, a protected class, whether we’re talking about minorities (blacks, Hispanics, “people of color”) or women/transgenders/gays/lesbians/whatever sexual so-called oppressed minority by the “patriarchy” (it all relates to Marx’s class war with a twist, now it’s a gender/sex/ethnicity war but the scope is the same, divide and conquer) has immunity/protection from “hate crime laws” which are destroying conservative movements on the Internet (Facebook, YouTube are cracking down on conservative users/groups/channels like there’s no tomorrow).
Facebook Suspends Feminists for “Men are Scum” Posts, Drama Ensues December 5, 2017
http://investmentwatchblog.com/facebook-suspends-feminists-for-men-are-scum-posts-drama-ensues/

Now we just got word that world’s first and most famous “protected group”, i.e. feminists, got shafted by Facebook. It seems like Mark the Zucc decided to take away the “hate speech” protection from feminists as they’re not shielded anymore from derisive comments targeted at their archenemy: men.
Today’s story is about a group of “feminist” (in reality man-haters) comedians that got suspended (read Zucced) from Facebook for posting brilliant arguments on their social media accounts, the likes of “men are scum” and similar new-age feminist palaver.

One of Mark Zuckerberg’s victims is a comedienne named Marcia Belsky, who low and behold, got a thirty day suspension after replying to a Facebook post with the “men are scum” pearl of wisdom. Another woman-comedienne received 7 days of Facebook jail for the same crime-think, Alison Klemp respectively. And finally, as reported by the Daily Beast, a Chicago based feminist who thinks she’s funny said she has been banned by the Zucc almost 10 times and she’s currently serving a thirty day suspension in Facebook limbo. Here’s from the Daily Beast piece:

“Women have posted things as bland as ‘men ain’t shit,’ ‘all men are ugly,’ and even ‘all men are allegedly ugly’ and had their posts removed. They’ve been locked out of their accounts for suggesting that, since ‘all men are ugly,’ country music star Blake Shelton ‘winning the sexiest man isn’t a triumph. In late November, after the [censorship] issue was raised in a private Facebook group of nearly 500 female comedians, women pledged to post some variation of ‘men are scum’ to Facebook on Nov. 24 in order to stage a protest. Nearly every women [sic] who carried out the pledge was banned.”

If you ask me, this looks like an organized effort by feminists (feminazis actually) to get banned and then play the pathetic victim-hood card, and I can definitely see a lot of cats in their future, but let that go. Obviously, the feminists complained about Facebook’s alleged double standard following the crackdown, claiming that they were only responding to people (men scum presumably) attacking them with foul language, and guess what: the “attackers” were not suspended, and that’s the power of patriarchy, or something along these lines. The feminists’ lament was heard and amplified by the New York Mag:

“Training documents for Facebook’s moderation team, leaked in mid-2017, show the mind-bending logic of Facebook’s moderation policies. Facebook’s ‘protected categories’ are sex, race, religious affiliation, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disability or disease. But there are ‘unprotected categories,’ which include things like social class, occupation, continental origin, political ideology, appearance, religion, age, or country. Facebook instructed moderators to ignore comments about ‘subsets’ of users in unprotected categories. This means derogatory comments about “white men” aren’t allowed on the service (as both race and gender are protected), while derogatory comments about “women drivers” and “black children” are (because occupation and age are unprotected).”

If you ask me, this is the left devouring its own, the revolution eating its children, or whatever you want to call it. The logic behind Facebook’s banning of angry feminazis is due to the left’s overall lack of logic and common sense. After all, it was the authoritarian left who imposed the idiotic term of “hate speech” on social media, and that’s now reflected in Facebook’s moderation policies. To make a long story short, this is commie-karma in action, just like it already happened with men now claiming woman status, thus becoming transgender and beating the crap out of women in sporting events, thus taking away athletic opportunities from real women.


Reddit is being gamed by professional shills every day. We investigate how widespread the problem of fake comments and fake votes is in our Reddit For Sale follow-up.
Reddit is Being Manipulated by Professional Shills Every Day Published on Feb 17, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxNvUWN3vYk (8:27 min.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjLsFnQejP8 (11:47 min.)

“The front page of the internet” is being gamed by vested interests. This is a story about how easy - and cheap - it is to buy your way onto the world’s most popular and influential forum. Check out the full in-depth article on FORBES here - http://bit.ly/2hwDSLA
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#3
The social media giant has been facing significant criticism from its former senior executives, who keep attacking the network's effects on society.

Dislike: Facebook Defends Its Business Model, Denies ‘Ripping Society Apart'
https://sputniknews.com/viral/201712131059959835-facebook-statement-chamath-palihapitiya/

In a rare move, Facebook issued a public response to accusations leveled by its former executive Chamath Palihapitiya, who claimed that the company's conduct is "ripping society apart."

Speaking at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Palihapitiya previously stated that "the short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that [Facebook] has created are destroying how society works."

The company's statement argued that it takes its "role very seriously" and is "working hard to improve" its services, pointing to the fact that its business model has significantly changed since 2011, when Palihapitiya resigned.

"When Chamath was at Facebook, we were focused on building new social media experiences and growing Facebook around the world," the statement read.

"Facebook was a very different company back then and as we have grown we have realised how our responsibilities have grown too."

Palihapitiya, who was responsible for increasing Facebook's user base in the early years of the network, blasted the "like culture" created by social media, arguing that it is a "global problem" that impedes civil discourse and cooperation between individuals.

He is not the only former senior Facebook executive, to have slammed the network.

In November, Facebook's founding president Sean Parker told Mike Allen from Axios that the network "exploits a vulnerability in human psychology" by creating a "social-validation feedback loop."

"The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them,… was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'"

"And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever."

"And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you… more likes and comments," Parker said.

Both former executives also blasted the effect that Facebook may have on young children, just as the network is introducing its special messaging service exclusively for children under 13, who were previously banned from using the network.

The app, called Messenger Kids, will enable children to chat with their friends and with approved adults with the consent of their parents.

Parker noted that Facebook "probably interferes with productivity in weird ways."

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains!" he said.

Palihapitiya went even further, revealing that he prohibits his own children from using the social network.

"I can control my kids' decisions, which is that they're not allowed to use that shit," he said.

Facebook's statement, however, hit back at those claims, arguing that its business model is continuously informed by various studies on how the social media affects individuals in order to minimize negative effects of its products.

"We have done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the effects of our service on well-being, and we're using it to inform our product development.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#4
Two decades ago, the US intelligence community worked closely with Silicon Valley in an effort to track citizens in cyberspace. And Google is at the heart of that origin story. Some of the research that led to Google’s ambitious creation was funded and coordinated by a research group established by the intelligence community to find ways to track individuals and groups online.

Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance 15th December 2017 
http://www.crypto-radar.com/googles-true-origin-partly-lies-in-cia-and-nsa-research-grants-for-mass-surveillance/

The intelligence community hoped that the nation’s leading computer scientists could take non-classified information and user data, combine it with what would become known as the internet, and begin to create for-profit, commercial enterprises to suit the needs of both the intelligence community and the public. They hoped to direct the supercomputing revolution from the start in order to make sense of what millions of human beings did inside this digital information network. That collaboration has made a comprehensive public-private mass surveillance state possible today.

The story of the deliberate creation of the modern mass-surveillance state includes elements of Google’s surprising, and largely unknown, origin. It is a somewhat different creation story than the one the public has heard, and explains what Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page set out to build, and why.

But this isn’t just the origin story of Google: It’s the origin story of the mass-surveillance state, and the government money that funded it.
(Article continues.)
 

MusicMan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#5
I have been following youtube videos on current earthquakes produced by an American who goes by the pseudonym Dutchsinse. He has intimated in his videos that data is being withheld by none other than the prestigious USGS, by downgrading and generally falsifying, or even omitting data on earthquakes, which ARE being broadcast by other agencies. One site even went as far as to password protect its data so that it could not be used in this way.

I have found his videos to be informative, and educational, and I couldn't blame him for complaining about the apparent falsification of data by the USGS, which seems to be protecting the gas and oil pumping operations which are spread in the thousands throughout California and the midwest (and also nuclear test sites).

Apparently because he complained about the USGS in his videos this has been deemed unsuitable by the youtube crowd and he has been demonetized, and even had some of his videos removed.

So yes, it is happening, and alternative websites might be the way to go.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#6
Just a note on Google:

Google declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel Friday December 8, 2017
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171208-google-declares-jerusalem-the-capital-of-israel/

The global search engine Google and Google Maps have changed the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This came as the US President Donald Trump was due to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and announced that the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The internet giant has come under immense criticism after making the change as it was completed before Trump’s decision was made public and also because US recognition does not change the status quo as per UN resolutions which have include that the status of Jerusalem will be decided during future negotiations.

Palestinians seek occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.


Omar Ghraieb
✔ @Omar_Gaza

.@Google jumped the gun announcing #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel ahead of #trump's speech which proves political influence & pressure.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#7
Roughly one year ago Facebook promised to eradicate "fake news" from its platform by "flagging" articles that were deemed inaccurate by their hand-selected "fact checkers" (A.K.A. "liberal propagandists")...we wrote all about it in a post entitled "Facebook Launches Campaign To Combat 'Fake News'".

Facebook Ditches Its "Fake News Flag" After People Shared Flagged Articles Even More
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-22/facebook-ditches-its-fake-news-flag-after-realizing-people-shared-flagged-articles-e

Among other things, the crusade attempted to dissuade people from sharing certain content, like the $100,000 of Russia ads that apparently changed the course of human history, by shaming them with a big red caution flag underneath their post. Per The Telegraph, it looked something like this:

Unfortunately, after a year of trials, it seems that Facebook users were not shamed by Zuckerberg's 'scarlet letter' but actually wore it as a badge of honor and shared those articles even more than they otherwise would have...oops.

Facebook is getting rid of its fake news red flags because they were making fabricated media reports appear more believable to its users.

The U-turn was prompted by research suggesting users would actually believe fake news even if it was flagged as incorrect or a misleading.

"Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs – the opposite effect to what we intended," Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons wrote in a blog-post.
As a result, Facebook is ditching the "fake news flag" and instead force feeding users articles that more closely align with Zuckerberg's political beliefs before allowing them to share articles that have been deemed 'inconvenient' for one reason or another.

It conducted research which suggested that false news stories with "related articles" next to it were shared fewer times than those highlighted with a red flag.

"False news undermines the unique value that Facebook offers: the ability for you to connect with family and friends in meaningful ways. It’s why we’re investing in better technology and more people to help prevent the spread of misinformation," Lyons wrote.

"Overall, we’re making progress. Demoting false news (as identified by fact-checkers) is one of our best weapons because demoted articles typically lose 80 percent of their traffic. This destroys the economic incentives spammers and troll farms have to generate these articles in the first place."
Facebook's latest attempt to censor its users will look something like this:

Of course, the "fake news" task force inside Facebook better come up with an effective censorship tool soon or they're going to miss an opportunity to run an effective campaign for Democrats in the mid-term elections.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#8
The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s account has been deleted from Twitter for unknown reasons.

WikiLeaks Founder's Twitter Account Deleted From Microblog Platform
https://sputniknews.com/world/201712251060299239-assange-twitter-deleted/

According to media reports, Assange, who resides in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, hasn't tweeted since Friday. And now his Twitter account @JulianAssange cannot be reached on the microblog platform.

It is not clear if the account was suspended by Twitter or Assange deleted it himself.

However, an archive of the WikiLeaks founder’s microblog can be easily found on the Internet.

Assange launched the WikiLeaks website in 2006. Since then, the platform has released millions of classified documents from all over the world on numerous espionage practices, war crimes, torture and many other human rights violations.

In 2012, Assange applied to the Ecuadorian authorities for a political asylum for fear of being extradited to Sweden on sexual abuse allegations. On December 4, 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled that Assange's detention was arbitrary. The United Kingdom and Sweden refused to recognize the legitimacy of the decision or to end Assange's prosecution.
 

Palinurus

The Living Force
#9
According to several outlets the Assange twitter account is back up again:

https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/25/julian-assanges-twitter-account-goes-offline-returns/
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-25/julian-assange-twitter-account-mysteriously-goes-dark-days-after-seth-rich-hint
https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/25/julian-assanges-twitter-account-goes-quiet/
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/julian-assanges-official-twitter-account-not-appearing-wikileaks/

https://twitter.com/JulianAssange
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#10
Palinurus said:
According to several outlets the Assange twitter account is back up again:

https://techcrunch.com/2017/12/25/julian-assanges-twitter-account-goes-offline-returns/
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-12-25/julian-assange-twitter-account-mysteriously-goes-dark-days-after-seth-rich-hint
https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/25/julian-assanges-twitter-account-goes-quiet/
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/julian-assanges-official-twitter-account-not-appearing-wikileaks/

https://twitter.com/JulianAssange
Thanks for the update, Palinurus.

When I read that twitter deleted Assange's account, it reminded me of an incident last month, when Trump's twitter account went down:

Trump Twitter account shut down by employee on last day of work
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/02/trump-twitter-account-offline

Company initially blamed human error for @realdonaldtrump account’s 11-minute outage but then revealed it was done by worker on final day in job.
 

Mark7

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
#11
FYI - I just noticed today that if I post a SOTT article link in a comment on Facebook, I get a message from Facebook that it is marked as spam. I did not see this mentioned on this forum yet but if it has been mentioned and it is happening to others, it's now happening on my account too. :scared: :evil:
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#12
In September of last year, we noted that Facebook representatives were meeting with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the ground that they constituted “incitement.”

Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments December 30 2017
https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the-direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments/

The meetings — called for and presided over by one of the most extremist and authoritarian Israeli officials, pro-settlement Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked — came after Israel threatened Facebook that its failure to voluntarily comply with Israeli deletion orders would result in the enactment of laws requiring Facebook to do so, upon pain of being severely fined or even blocked in the country.

The predictable results of those meetings are now clear and well-documented. Ever since, Facebook has been on a censorship rampage against Palestinian activists who protest the decadeslong, illegal Israeli occupation, all directed and determined by Israeli officials. Indeed, Israeli officials have been publicly boasting about how obedient Facebook is when it comes to Israeli censorship orders:

Shortly after news broke earlier this month of the agreement between the Israeli government and Facebook, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said
Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to the social media giant over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed “incitement.” She said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests.

She’s right. The submission to Israeli dictates is hard to overstate: As the New York Times put it in December of last year, “Israeli security agencies monitor Facebook and send the company posts they consider incitement. Facebook has responded by removing most of them.”

What makes this censorship particularly consequential is that “96 percent of Palestinians said their primary use of Facebook was for following news.” That means that Israeli officials have virtually unfettered control over a key communications forum of Palestinians.

In the weeks following those Facebook-Israel meetings, reported The Independent, “the activist collective Palestinian Information Center reported that at least 10 of their administrators’ accounts for their Arabic and English Facebook pages — followed by more than 2 million people — have been suspended, seven of them permanently, which they say is a result of new measures put in place in the wake of Facebook’s meeting with Israel.” Last March, Facebook briefly shut down the Facebook page of the political party, Fatah, followed by millions, “because of an old photo posted of former leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle.”

A 2016 report from the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms detailed how extensive the Facebook censorship was: Pages and personal accounts that were filtered and blocked:

Palestinian Dialogue Network (PALDF.net) Gaza now, Jerusalem News Network, Shihab agency, Radio Bethlehem 2000, Orient Radio Network, page Mesh Heck, Ramallah news, journalist Huzaifa Jamous from Abu Dis, activist Qassam Bedier, activist Mohammed Ghannam, journalist Kamel Jbeil, administrative accounts for Al Quds Page, administrative accounts Shihab agency, activist Abdel-Qader al-Titi, youth activist Hussein Shajaeih, Ramah Mubarak (account is activated), Ahmed Abdel Aal (account is activated), Mohammad Za’anin (still deleted), Amer Abu Arafa (still deleted), Abdulrahman al-Kahlout (still deleted).

Needless to say, Israelis have virtually free rein to post whatever they want about Palestinians. Calls by Israelis for the killing of Palestinians are commonplace on Facebook, and largely remain undisturbed.

As Al Jazeera reported last year, “Inflammatory speech posted in the Hebrew language … has attracted much less attention from the Israeli authorities and Facebook.” One study found that “122,000 users directly called for violence with words like ‘murder,’ ‘kill,’ or ‘burn.’ Arabs were the No. 1 recipients of hateful comments. Yet there appears to be little effort by Facebook to censor any of that.”

Though some of the most inflammatory and explicit calls for murder are sometimes removed, Facebook continues to allow the most extremist calls for incitement against Palestinians to flourish. Indeed, Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often used social media to post what is clearly incitement to violence against Palestinians generally. In contrast to Facebook’s active suppression against Palestinians, the very idea that Facebook would ever use its censorship power against Netanyahu or other prominent Israelis calling for violence and inciting attacks is unthinkable. Indeed, as Al Jazeera concisely put it, “Facebook hasn’t met Palestinian leaders to discuss their concern.”

Facebook now seems to be explicitly admitting that it also intends to follow the censorship orders of the U.S. government. Earlier this week, the company deleted the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Ramzan Kadyrov, the repressive, brutal, and authoritarian leader of the Chechen Republic, who had a combined 4 million followers on those accounts. To put it mildly, Kadyrov — who is given free rein to rule the province in exchange for ultimate loyalty to Moscow — is the opposite of a sympathetic figure: He has been credibly accused of a wide range of horrific human rights violations, from the imprisonment and torture of LGBTs to the kidnapping and killing of dissidents.

But none of that dilutes how disturbing and dangerous Facebook’s rationale for its deletion of his accounts is. A Facebook spokesperson told the New York Times that the company deleted these accounts not because Kadyrov is a mass murderer and tyrant, but that “Mr. Kadyrov’s accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act.”

As the Times notes, this rationale appears dubious or at least inconsistently applied: Others who are on the same sanctions list, such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, remain active on both Facebook and Instagram. But just consider the incredibly menacing implications of Facebook’s claims.

What this means is obvious: that the U.S. government — meaning, at the moment, the Trump administration — has the unilateral and unchecked power to force the removal of anyone it wants from Facebook and Instagram by simply including them on a sanctions list. Does anyone think this is a good outcome? Does anyone trust the Trump administration — or any other government — to compel social media platforms to delete and block anyone it wants to be silenced? As the ACLU’s Jennifer Granick told the Times:

It’s not a law that appears to be written or designed to deal with the special situations where it’s lawful or appropriate to repress speech. … This sanctions law is being used to suppress speech with little consideration of the free expression values and the special risks of blocking speech, as opposed to blocking commerce or funds as the sanctions was designed to do. That’s really problematic.

Does Facebook’s policy of blocking people from its platform who are sanctioned apply to all governments? Obviously not. It goes without saying that if, say, Iran decided to impose sanctions on Chuck Schumer for his support of Trump’s policy of recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Facebook would never delete the accounts of the Democratic Party Senate minority leader — just as Facebook would never delete the accounts of Israeli officials who incite violence against Palestinians or who are sanctioned by Palestinian officials. Just last month, Russia announced retaliatory sanctions against various Canadian officials and executives, but needless to say, Facebook took no action to censor them or block their accounts.

Similarly, would Facebook ever dare censor American politicians or journalists who use social media to call for violence against America’s enemies? To ask the question is to answer it.

As is always true of censorship, there is one, and only one, principle driving all of this: power. Facebook will submit to and obey the censorship demands of governments and officials who actually wield power over it, while ignoring those who do not. That’s why declared enemies of the U.S. and Israeli governments are vulnerable to censorship measures by Facebook, whereas U.S and Israeli officials (and their most tyrannical and repressive allies) are not:

All of this illustrates that the same severe dangers from state censorship are raised at least as much by the pleas for Silicon Valley giants to more actively censor “bad speech.” Calls for state censorship may often be well-intentioned — a desire to protect marginalized groups from damaging “hate speech” — yet, predictably, they are far more often used against marginalized groups: to censor them rather than protect them. One need merely look at how hate speech laws are used in Europe, or on U.S. college campuses, to see that the censorship victims are often critics of European wars, or activists against Israeli occupation, or advocates for minority rights.

One can create a fantasy world in one’s head, if one wishes, in which Silicon Valley executives use their power to protect marginalized peoples around the world by censoring those who wish to harm them. But in the real world, that is nothing but a sad pipe dream. Just as governments will, these companies will use their censorship power to serve, not to undermine, the world’s most powerful factions.

Just as one might cheer the censorship of someone one dislikes without contemplating the long-term consequences of the principle being validated, one can cheer the disappearance from Facebook and Instagram of a Chechen monster. But Facebook is explicitly telling you that the reason for its actions is that it was obeying the decrees of the U.S. government about who must be shunned.

It’s hard to believe that anyone’s ideal view of the internet entails vesting power in the U.S. government, the Israeli government, and other world powers to decide who may be heard on it and who must be suppressed. But increasingly, in the name of pleading with internet companies to protect us, that’s exactly what is happening.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#13
Russia has noticed a problem with Buzzfeed stating that Buzzfeed is an information tool of the US intelligence services.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the United States of a secret funding of opposition groups, aimed at destabilization of the country.
Russia Accuses US of Secret Opposition Funding, Aiming to Destabilize Country Jan. 17, 2018
https://sputniknews.com/russia/201801181060864234-russia-us-opposition-funding-destabilizaion/

Unlike US embassies, which often use covert money transfers to fund various kinds of opposition groups, with the aim, among other things, to destabilize domestic political situations; this is something that Russia does not do," the ministry noted in an official statement.

The ministry has also demanded Washington to punish those responsible for the disclosure of the confidential data, commenting on Buzzfeed's release of transactions, carried out by Russian diplomatic offices in the US, as well as some of the country's diplomats.

We urge the US to stop this practice, return to decent behavior, and to resume responsible and orderly interstate communication," the diplomat stressed. "We demand that US authorities finally begin to implement their own national legislation and international obligations, immediately stop the illegal dissemination of confidential information affecting the interests of the Russian Federation and bring to justice those responsible, including those who hold the appropriate posts in the US state apparatus."

The statement went on by calling Buzzfeed an information tool of the US intelligence services.

"It is extremely alarming that on January 17, a media outlet presenting itself as a news portal, but is essentially an information tool of the US intelligence services, the resource "Buzzfeed" published a new portion of confidential information about the transactions of Russian diplomatic institutions in the United States, along with a number of employees of our embassy, both active and former. Obviously, this could not happen without the awareness of the authorities of this country," the document says.

According to the ministry, the Buzzfeed staff admitted that when they tried to request comments from our diplomats, they used contact information from their bank forms.

However, the ministry noted, it is simply impossible to obtain such data without the sanction of the relevant US government bodies.

"In other words, the encroachment on the inviolability of the accounts of the Russian embassy and its personnel with diplomatic immunity is the work of official Washington," the document says.

As the ministry explains, some of the released information has been fabricated or misinterpreted, aiming to use it as a part of the US attempt to accuse Moscow of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

"But with these accounts, this is no longer just a matter of "fake news", but a real crime, including the violation of the confidentiality of banking information and the disclosure of personal data," the department believes.

In that respect, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Washington does not provide adequate conditions for Russian diplomatic institutions to operate in the country.

US Embassy caught funding Russian opposition
http://www.fort-russ.com/2018/01/us-embassy-caught-funding-russian.html

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the US Embassy in Moscow of concealing the transfer of money to opposition groups, to destabilize the political situation in Russia. This was stated by the Department of Information and Press of the Foreign Ministry.

"We urge the United States to stop this practice, return to decent behavior, renew responsible and orderly inter-state communication. We demand that the US authorities finally begin to follow their own national legislation and international obligations," it was reported.

Also, for protecting information, Russia has implemented this:

Russian Ministry of Defense ditches Microsoft Windows system January 13, 2018
http://www.fort-russ.com/2018/01/russian-ministry-of-defense-ditches.html

The Russian Ministry of Defense will be transferring all office computers to the operating system Astra Linux. This is a completely domestic development, its creator - the Moscow company "RusBITEkh". The new OS will also be loaded on all special service smartphones and tablets.

Currently, licensed Microsoft products are installed on Russian military computers.

"A key feature of Astra Linux Special Edition is a unique system for protecting information," said Dmitry Donskoy, deputy director of the company.

The OS suite also includes an office application LibreOffice. For the secure exchange of information, the electronic document management system "Pergament" is used. Popular in Russia software products, such as the "1C" accounting system, Kaspersky Antivirus and Dr.Web. are fully compatible with the OS.

"In connection with sanctions in all federal bodies, it was decided to switch to domestic software at an accelerated pace. Without exaggeration, this is a matter of national security." said Alexei Smirnov, the developer.

The Russian office of Microsoft declined to comment.

Earlier, the Pentagon also announced plans to switch to an operating system based on Linux. This was also explained by security considerations.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#14
Snapchat messaging app

Snap company, the creator of Snapchat messaging app, has issued a memo to employees threatening those responsible for leaks with jail time. The day after the memo was issued, the mass media published Snapchat confidential data in bulk.

Snapchat Threatens Leakers With Jail, Next Day Media Publishes Secret Data 19.01.2018
https://sputniknews.com/business/201801191060900878-snapchat-leaks-cuts-secrets/

More than 20 Snapchat employees have been fired after large amounts of internal Snapchat data were leaked to the public. The ‘ouch' moment here is that the leak happened the next day the company issued a memo warning the employees to stay away from the confidential data.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for those who leak Snap Inc. confidential information," the company general counsel Michael O'Sullivan said in the memo, obtained by the Cheddar news website. "This applies to outright leaks and any informal ‘off the record' conversations with reporters as well as any confidential information you let slip to people who are not authorized to know that information."

What started in an official tone quickly escalated to a threatening one:

"If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you," O'Sullivan wrote. "And that's just the start. You can face personal financial liability even if you yourself did not benefit from the leaked information. The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail."

Guess what: the next day, The Daily Beast published an essay entitled "This is the Data Snapchat Doesn't Want You to See." The lengthy essay tells a detailed story about how the company works, how the service works and how the app calculates its user metric, among other secrets. According to the website, the data came from several former and current employees. The essay particularly underscores that the company is seemingly obsessed with secrecy and strict information control.

We'll bet those executives were pretty angry about that.

As one might expect, the leak was met with a firing spree, but here's the twist: the information about said firing spree was *also* leaked one day before the official statement. Again, Cheddar website reported on January 18 that 20 Snapchat employees were fired before the company made the official announcement on January 19.

It almost appears as if someone is literally trolling the company.

There is no confirmed direct connection between the staff cuts and the leaks, though, as the company officials refused to provide comments on the recent cuts. According to Cheddar, though, Snapchat has been firing employees in batches of two dozen at a time since September. Cheddar point out that the company seeks to deal with stagnant user growth and cites the memo from Snap CEO Evan Spiegel that details the importance of building a "scalable" business.

"Having a scalable business model isn't enough," Spiegel said in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Cheddar. "We also need to have an organization that scales internally. This means that we must become exponentially more productive as we add additional resources and team members."


Snapchat keeps its partners, investors, and even employees in the dark about how core features are performing. Now, some of those figures are finally being dragged into the light.
This Is the Data Snapchat Doesn’t Want You to See
_https://www.thedailybeast.com/this-is-the-data-snapchat-doesnt-want-you-to-see

Snapchat takes its secrecy seriously. Very, very seriously.

Take the case of one former Snapchat employee. On his first day, he was forced to sit through an ominous orientation in which he was threatened with termination if he so much as breathed a word of what he was working on to friends or family.

He was told that he couldn’t bring anyone into the building unapproved, and those who were cleared could only be taken to specific conference rooms or the cafe. After taking a seat at his desk, he realized that he couldn’t even speak about his job internally.

The company operates in secret “need to know”-type bubbles, where many in sales, content, or non-engineering roles feel kept in the dark.

Aside from an elite group of engineers and those in Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel’s inner circle, most employees aren’t given access to the version of the app where its newest features are tested and deployed. This leaves some employees feeling left out. “I find out about new products mostly through the news,” a different employee said.

Snapchat declined to comment on the record about matters related to the company’s secrecy.

But the company has become so privacy-obsessed it blocks access to its own app at parties and events. At Snapchat’s NYC holiday party at the Beekman Hotel and its massive, $4 million New Year’s Eve blowout in Los Angeles, employees and guests had the cameras on their phones taped over. “Evan is paranoid and they go ballistic when there’s a leak,” another former employee said.

According to three current employees, one floor of the New York office is entirely off limits and workers are left to speculate what goes on there.

Two sources—one currently at Snapchat, another recently gone—told The Daily Beast that Jason Halbert, Snapchat’s HR chief, remains in Spiegel’s close circle despite an investigation into Halbert’s alleged inappropriate behavior, and is given free rein to investigate potential leakers in the company.

As secretive as Snapchat is about its internal operations, it’s equally as secretive about its data. Snapchat rarely reveals numbers. And the ones it does release are very broad.

While Snapchat has released some overarching statistics during its public statements—including 178 million daily active users in the third quarter of 2017—the company has not made public any detailed stats related to many of the app’s most popular elements.

Employees, partners, and investors have been kept in the dark about how well (or poorly) many key features of the app are doing.

Snapchat was built as a way to privately share photos and messages, yet Snapchat does not publicly disclose data around how many people share photos or messages daily. Instagram, Snapchat’s direct competitor, has released top-line daily active user (DAU) numbers as well as those for its Stories feature.

The Daily Beast reviewed five months of confidential DAU metrics for nearly every feature in the app, including Snap Maps, Discover, Memories, Geofilters, Lenses, Chat, Audio, and Stories.

The data spans from late April to late September 2017 and the information obtained also includes detailed reports on time spent within the app, snaps created versus those posted, geographic breakdown of users, and more.

The data shows that despite its perception as a nascent social platform, Snapchat is much more of a chat app. And key features like Snap Maps have yet to gain widespread adoption among the app’s user base.

In the meantime, the company has begun to beta test a new redesigned version of the app—the first large-scale redesign the company has ever undertaken. And a public release is imminent.

Given some of the numbers, it’s no wonder Snapchat is reinventing itself.

It wasn’t long ago—just June of 2017—when the company launched a major new feature to great fanfare.

Snap Maps was billed as the ultimate tool for meeting up with friends IRL. Users could passively share their location on a map with friends, making it easy to see who was around you and theoretically hang out.

Refinery29, which got an exclusive look at the product, gave it a positive review, saying that it would “transform how you connect with friends.”

Snap Maps was also meant to function as a discovery tool. It was essentially Snapchat’s answer to Instagram Explore.

Along with the locations of your friends, Snap Maps shows popular snaps from certain places, allows users to search and discover new restaurants or venues, and peek into what’s happening at different locations in real time via geographically curated feeds of snaps.

When disaster struck, Snap Maps also became a powerful tool for watching real-time breaking news unfold. Publications like Wired and Quartz praised the feature’s ability to act as a window into what was going on in the world.

Members of Snapchat’s news team—including Snapchat’s head of news, Peter Hamby—met with groups of journalists last fall to promote the feature as a news-gathering tool.

Yet despite all the hype and promotion, Snap Maps’ DAU numbers have been relatively weak and declined sharply post-launch.

While usage spiked mildly on Saturdays, the overall trend line headed steadily down. In the month of September, an average of only 19 million users checked Snap Maps daily, just 11 percent of the app’s total daily user base.

Perhaps in an effort to combat these low numbers, it was recently reported that Snapchat has hired Rahul Chopra, former senior vice president and global head of video at News Corp, to potentially launch a new product called “Stories Everywhere.”

Stories is Snapchat’s pioneering format. A Story is a public feed of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. Since Snapchat launched its Stories feature in 2013, the feature has been cloned into Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Stories Everywhere would theoretically help raise the presence of Stories content (much of it currently buried in Snap Map) across the web.

This could mean offering things like the ability to embed geographic Stories (short feeds of public videos and photos) on websites much like Twitter allows users to embed tweets.

This move is unlikely to help resurrect Snap Maps, but it may help broaden the awareness of Snapchat’s geographic and location-based Stories.

But at Snapchat, changes happen at a mile a minute, and there’s no time to mourn underperforming products.

“They talk about this place being a rocket ship,” a current employee said. “A few people who have left have jokingly called it the Titanic. Personally, I think it’s more like a roller coaster. The highs are high and the lows can feel low.”

Over the past year, several executives have decided to simply step off the ride.

Tim Sehn’s departure in November marked the fourth executive departure since the company went public last March. Robyn Thomas, Snapchat’s former VP of HR and legal, and Martin Lev, former VP of security and facilities, both left in July, along with Chris Handman, Snap Inc.’s general counsel. Jad Boutros, chief of security at Snapchat, announced that he was leaving the company in January.

Several beloved tech veterans also exited over the past year. Former Timehop founder Jonathan Wegener departed the company this fall and ad exec Sriram Krishnan got tired of commuting from San Francisco to Los Angeles and joined Twitter last February.

In the meantime, Snapchat is struggling to grow its user base and its stock price has been volatile. Its price declined from a high of $27.09 a share shortly after going public to $13.92 per share on Jan. 8.

“If DAUs go down or stay flat, the stock could go under $10,” one former employee said. “I feel like if that happens most people at the company will just quit. I know several friends already looking to get out.”

Snapchat’s stock was downgraded again on Jan. 4 after a survey found that 96 percent of ad buyers would prefer to buy ads on Instagram over Snapchat.

“I don’t know, personally I find this place to be a place where you put in your hours or your years,” one employee said. “I really wished it was a place where I can be a lifer, but I just don’t see that happening.”

Then there’s the question of what Snapchat really is.

Snapchat likes to call itself a camera company, but many of its features only tangentially align with that mission.

For Snapchat’s core user base of 18- to 24-year-olds, Snapchat is a highly addicting hybrid social network and chat app. But for many new users, especially older ones, it’s a disorienting, disconnected jumble—without a clear role in a user’s life.

Data reviewed by The Daily Beast shows that users treat Snapchat more like a traditional chat app than a social-media platform or camera company, though users do send and share a high volume of photos and videos.

“It’s clear that Snapchat is gaining on the personal communication part [messages] but struggles on the Story part,” said Thomas Cilius, CEO of Snapchat analytics firm Snaplytics, after reviewing the data.

The data shows that users sent personal snaps to friends more frequently than they posted to Stories. In August, users were 64 percent more likely to send a snap to a friend than post to Stories and sent an average of 34 chat messages per day.

Investors with deep experience in social and messaging who reviewed the data said they were shocked by how many picture messages users were sending.

Snapchat these days is often compared to Instagram, which has rolled out its own “stories” feature. Investors said what that comparison misses is that Snapchat, at its core, is a messenger product and people are really underestimating it as a messaging platform.

Investors who reviewed the data also said the fact that people are sending and receiving so many photo messages on the platform gives it a huge leg up on iMessage or Facebook Messenger.

The majority of conversation that happens on most chat apps is text-based, and other platforms struggle to get users to exchange photos or videos. Investors said that completely visual messaging at this scale is “a pretty big deal.”

All of this backs up Spiegel’s own depiction of Snapchat. In the past, he has said that users taking selfies on the app aren’t being vain or snapping photos to post later on social media, they’re “talking with pictures.”

But while Spiegel may have a clear vision of what his app is, his employees are often left in the dark, scrambling to build or innovate on products on his every whim. “We’re running sprints back and forth based on what Evan tells us,” one current employee said.

Other employees say they are given “no visibility of what the company’s future looks like” and that only Spiegel and his select chosen group are made aware of long-term strategy, plans, or vision.

“There’s probably a new idea for everyone to work on every few months with a hard deadline that inevitably gets pushed back. It’s almost a joke when a deadline is set, we’re almost sure it gets pushed back. Even though our managers initially say no, everything is always spun to be better for us.”

One of those deadlines that has been continually pushed back is the rollout of Snapchat’s big redesign, a project internally referred to as project “Cheetah.”

In late November, Spiegel announced that Snapchat would soon undergo its most significant redesign since launching in 2011.

Currently, Snapchat’s media portal, Discover, is housed in the right side of the app and sits below a highly engaging feed of friends’ public Stories.

Snapchat Discover features news and entertainment content from top publishers. When a user scrolls to the bottom of their feed of friends’ Stories, they’ll inevitably encounter Discover content.

The revamp is supposed to make the app easier for new users to figure out, but it splits the Discover portion of the app from users’ Stories. With the redesign, Discover content and friend content will live separately.

The entire concept for the redesign has been contentious. Sehn, Snapchat’s then-VP of engineering, left the company in November and was reportedly a critic of Snapchat 2.0.

One of the biggest fears about the redesign is that Discover usage will plummet and it will crater Snapchat’s ad revenue.

Snapchat already lost $443 million in the third quarter of 2017 and desperately needs to prove to investors that it can successfully monetize if it’s going to have any long-term viability. “If I was on the Discover team, I’d be -flicking-g furious,” one former employee said.

The redesign rolled out to a select group of beta testers in December, but has yet to hit the public version of the app.

More than 40 publishers, including BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and others have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into creating daily “Editions” for the Discover portion of the app, which function like mini magazines.

Publishers are given access to a detailed analytics dashboard that has information about their own channel, and sometimes representatives will let them know how their content is performing against other competitors in their group.

But in the three years since Discover has launched, Snapchat has refused to provide publishers with overall broad DAU numbers for the Discover portion of the app. In other words, Snapchat never gives out DAU information on the Discover platform itself.

When Snapchat pitches itself to publishers, it emphasizes that they will have access to Snapchat’s 178 million daily active users.

But according to the data reviewed by The Daily Beast, only an average of 20 percent of Snapchat users consumed content from a Discover Edition daily.

While Discover Edition unique users rose slightly over time, consumption peaked on July 24, 2017, at 38 million daily unique users, around 21 percent of the broader user base.

This isn’t abysmal, but it’s doubtful that Discover will be able to reach similar numbers once that portion of the app is separated from more engaging content from users’ friends.

If publishers, realizing they can no longer reach the audience they were promised, abandon the platform, Snapchat would lose a significant portion of its revenue and the app would be left in a dire state.

In the meantime, the company is preparing to move into a brand new 300,000-square-foot office in Santa Monica. The building is a pitch black cube-like structure with giant black reflective windows.

“Honestly, it looks like the NSA,” a former employee joked.
 

genero81

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
#15
Just got the e-mail from twitter notifying me that I either liked or retweeted something from an account that was deemed to be part of the imaginary Russian collusion interference in the 2016 election. Marks a first for me for being warned about anything related to content on social media. I imagine it won't be the last.
 
Top Bottom