Facebook might downrank the most vile conspiracy theories. But it won’t take them down.

Through Social Science One, researchers can get access to Facebook data. Social Science One, launched Wednesday, is an independent research commission that will give social scientists access to previously private Facebook data. The initiative, announced back in April, is funded by outside organizations, and the research won’t be subject to Facebook’s approval. Robbie Gonzalez reported in Wired:
Starting today, researchers from around the world can apply for funding and data access that Social Science One will approve — not Facebook. If researchers want to search for something in the platform’s data that could make it look bad — or if they actually find something — Facebook won’t be able to pump the brakes.

Twitter is weeding out bots and — now — locked accounts. “Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer”

Twitter has taken steps to fight spam and bots on the platform. Now, it’s making other changes “as part of our ongoing and global effort to build trust and encourage healthy conversation on Twitter.” The company’s Vijaya Gadde wrote in a blog post Wednesday:
Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behavior. In these situations, we reach out to the owners of the accounts and unless they validate the account and reset their passwords, we keep them locked with no ability to log in. This week, we’ll be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down. Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop. We understand this may be hard for some,
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In Alabama, a small-town paper is figuring out digital advertising — and they’re doing it live

Digital advertising has, broadly speaking, been a disappointment for American newspapers. From 2013 to 2017, digital ad revenue for newspapers increased only about 8 percent — only barely beating inflation. (Meanwhile, overall digital ad spending — dominated by Google and Facebook — more than doubled over the same period.) But in the Alabama Piedmont, the Alexander City Outlook, print circulation of around 3,250, somehow managed to boost its digital ad revenue more than 80 percent in 2017 — from $56,000 to $104,000, Editor & Publisher reported recently. So how did the paper do it? Alexander City is a town of 14,773 people. While in many respects “Alex” City is just another small town outside of the more metropolitan city of Montgomery, the town newspaper, with a staff of three full-time reporters plus a managing editor, is anything but. (Tragically, after I started reporting this story, The Outlook’s editor
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What kind of information — not just content — do you need as a news consumer?

For all the questions journalists ask, sometimes one of the most important ones can get lost in the shuffle: What do you, as a reader/​listener/​viewer/​news absorber, need? The self-authority of journalists has been banged about for years and I’m not here to beat the drum any further. But while groups like Hearken, GroundSource, the Coral Project, and more have pulled out ways for journalists to ask their audiences what they wanted to learn, newsrooms haven’t always been keen on asking people what they need to know. Weather and traffic reports are always helpful, and in-depth philosophical takes on community issues can be valuable, but Sarah Alvarez wanted to find the sweet spot between. “There’s some kind of middle ground there: It’s not ‘Where is this thing’ and it’s not like ‘I wonder why people are racist’,” she said. “It’s something in the middle which is where news Continue reading "What kind of information — not just content — do you need as a news consumer?"

Several people are typing: The good, the bad, and the mansplaining of WikiTribune

On June 30, a spam article was posted to WikiTribune, Jimmy Wales’ news startup that argued “news is broken and we can fix it.” “International Airport Escort service In Mumbai,” it read. “I Provide Good Quality Educated Profile At Very Low 100% Safe And Original. 100 % Satisfied Guaranteed (Age- 19-25) College Girls.” A contributor quickly flagged the post on WikiTribune’s public Slack and changed the page’s view to “private,” resulting in a 404 error for anyone who clicked on the link. The 404 page’s wording then became the topic of discussion. In the newsroom of the future, things are still being worked out. But everything is up for debate. WikiTribune was unveiled in April 2017 with big promises. A community of professional and citizen journalists would work side by side, reporting, fact-checking, combating fake news, and pulling in enough money from readers to support staff journalists
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54 newsrooms, 9 countries, and 9 core ideas: Here’s what two researchers found in a yearlong quest for journalism innovation

Many news organizations are working intensely on sharpening their own profiles and identities, challenging the dogma of neutrality and fleeing away from the catch-all omnibus news ideal for several reasons. The need for a clear media identity grows when online news content is spread in small, unidentifiable bites across the Internet. Also, in order to make people relate to and identity with you, you must show them what you stand for. Show them who you are, and from which perspective — geographically, socio-demographically, or politically — you view the world. Prime examples of news media working with their identities in this targeted way are the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen (The Class Struggle), the regional online news site Voice of San Diego and The Evergrey in Seattle.

2. From omnibus to niche

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YouTube has a plan to boost “authoritative” news sources and give grants to news video operations

Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday announced a few improvements it intends to make to the news discovery and viewing experience. The platform has had a bit of a bad run recently: surfacing videos that accuse mass-shooting survivors of being crisis actors, hosting disturbing videos targeting children, encouraging radicalizing behaviors through its recommendation algorithm, frustrating content creators trying to figure out monetization on the platform, blindsiding Wikipedia by saying it would use it to provide context and debunking. (YouTube employees themselves came under attack in April, when a woman shot three people at its headquarters in San Francisco before killing herself.) The post about the platform’s coming changes, rosily titled “Building a better news experience on YouTube, together,” outlines new initiatives, including $25 million worth of grants for news organizations around the world to build out their video operations and tests of local news boosts in YouTube’s connected
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