Sunnier Side of the Office

Facebook To Rank News Outlets on Trustworthiness

Last week we wrote about Facebook’s algorithm overhaul in which the company announced it would prioritize posts by people’s friends rather than publishers’ and companies’ posts. Then late FridayFacebook said it would rank news outlets based on how “trustworthy” they determine them to be.

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation, and polarization in the world today,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post announcing the news. “Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.” He said expects a 20% drop in the number of news people see.

To do this, Facebook will poll select users to help determine what outlets are considered trustworthy.

The move will likely have far-reaching implications. From Ad Age: “The changes Facebook is making will impact the makeup of content that everyone sees every day, Facebook has more than 2 billion monthly users when they go to their News Feeds. Publishers who rely on Facebook to reach their online audiences have been concerned by the impact the new priorities could have on their businesses.”

Spotify Adds Visual Podcasts to its Programming

By Katie McKinley

Spotify announced last Thursday that it is expanding its podcasting initiative with visually-enhanced audio programming about news, entertainment, sports, and politics. The new format, called Spotlight, includes text, video, and photos as a way to supplement its audio experiences. According to Spotify’s blog, “Spotlight gives fans a deeper insight to their favorite artists, playlists, books, publishers and more by offering contextual visual elements.”

Spotlight will provide content in a playlist format with visual elements available through the Spotify app. Spotify’s head of Studio and Video, Courtney William Holt, explains that the new playlist format “merges great storytelling, news, information and opinion” and “play[s] an important role in the daily lives of [Spotify] users bringing them closer to the creators they love”.

 Spotify is launching with content from its current partners, including BuzzFeed News, Cheddar, Crooked Media, Lenny Letter, Gimlet Media, Uninterrupted, Refinery29 a, d Genius, as well as with content from Spotify’s original series, RISE, Secret Genius, Spotify Singles, and Viva Latino. The feature is currently only available in the U.S. and will eventually expand to other countries.

 As the world’s biggest streaming music service, the new initiative is an effort for Spotify to differentiate itself from its competitors including Apple Music and Pandora, as well as to further compete with YouTube. The implications for advertisers in still to be determined, but M/H will monitor as updates are released.

Twitter Notifies Almost 700,000 Users About Russian Tweets

By now we’ve all heard about the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, some of it through an elaborate social media scheme by Kremlin-connected Internet Research Agency. Details are still trickling out. Last week, Twitter said it found more than 1,000 Twitter accounts linked to the IRA and that the company will notify nearly 700,000 users who followed or otherwise interacted with the accounts (which have since been suspended).

“After the 2016 election, we launched our Information Quality initiative to further develop strategies to detect and prevent bad actors from abusing our platform,” said the company in a post. “We have since made significant improvements while recognizing that we have more to do as these patterns of activity develop and shift over time.”

Read more at Ad Age.

This Week In Social: Mainstream Memes

By Melissa Santiago

Memes are a growing segment of online culture and are a bit of shorthand for die-hard internet culture junkies. Memes rarely leave social platforms, but Tide Pods are blazing a new trail. Tide Pods have always been an ill-advised forbidden treat appealing to children under 5 since their market release, forcing P&G to tweak their packaging multiple times; however, around 2015 memes about the adult fascination with ingesting the pods started to circulate on message boards and in satirical publications like The Onion.

The meme resurfaced in late 2017, but this time the conversation has bubbled up beyond the typical social reach of memes. Major media outlets are covering the phenomenon either seriously or satirically including The New Yorker and SNL. While the idea of ingesting a laundry pod is comical because it’s so absurd, YouTube has had to remove videos of people actually eating Tide Pods, media outlets are warning people not to eat them, and Time reports that Poison Control calls for teens “misusing” laundry pods in January alone is higher than all incidents reported in all of 2016.

Tide also relied on celebrity, influencer endorsement to tell people not to eat their product via a social video—a use-case for influencers that even the savviest social media professional could not have predicted.