Tag Archives: Facebook

“Everything Is Fake”: Ex-Reddit CEO Confirms Internet Traffic Metrics Are All Bullshit

“It’s all true: Everything is fake,” tweeted Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao regarding a Wednesday New York Magazine article which reveals that internet traffic metrics from some of the largest tech companies are overstated or fabricated. In other words; they’re bullshit.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/pao1.jpg?itok=hbPEP0dDEx-Reddit CEO turned truth teller, Ellen Pao

Pao was responding to a tweet by the Washington Post‘s Aram Zucker-Schariff, quoting the following segment of the article: 

The metrics are all fake.

Take something as seemingly simple as how we measure web traffic. Metrics should be the most real thing on the internet: They are countable, trackable, and verifiable, and their existence undergirds the advertising business that drives our biggest social and search platforms. Yet not even Facebook, the world’s greatest data–gathering organization, seems able to produce genuine figures. In October, small advertisers filed suit against the social-media giant, accusing it of covering up, for a year, its significant overstatements of the time users spent watching videos on the platform (by 60 to 80 percent, Facebook says; by 150 to 900 percent, the plaintiffs say). According to an exhaustive list at MarketingLand, over the past two years Facebook has admitted to misreporting the reach of posts on Facebook Pages (in two different ways), the rate at which viewers complete ad videos, the average time spent reading its “Instant Articles,” the amount of referral traffic from Facebook to external websites, the number of views that videos received via Facebook’s mobile site, and the number of video views in Instant Articles.

Can we still trust the metrics? After the Inversion, what’s the point? Even when we put our faith in their accuracy, there’s something not quite real about them: My favorite statistic this year was Facebook’s claim that 75 million people watched at least a minute of Facebook Watch videos every day — though, as Facebook admitted, the 60 seconds in that one minute didn’t need to be watched consecutively. Real videos, real people, fake minutes. –NYMag

It’s all true: Everything is fake,” tweeted Pao, adding “Also mobile user counts are fake. No one has figured out how to count logged-out mobile users, as I learned at Reddit. Every time someone switches cell towers, it looks like another user and inflates company user metrics.” 

The New York Magazine article by Max Read goes much deeper, however, asserting; “The people are fake” , “The businesses are fake” , “The content is fake” , “Our politics are fake,” and finally “We ourselves are fake.”

Tell us how you really feel Max! 

For starters Read notes that “Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human.” Some years, “a healthy majority of it is bot.” In fact, half of all YouTube traffic in 2013 was bots according to the Times

The internet has always played host in its dark corners to schools of catfish and embassies of Nigerian princes, but that darkness now pervades its every aspect: Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the realNYMag

Also of interest, the Times found in their August investigation that there is a flourishing business buying clicks. In fact, one can buy 5,000 video clicks in 30-second increments – for as little as $15, with the traffic typically coming from bots or “click farms.”

So what constitutes “real” traffic, Read asks? 

If a Russian troll using a Brazilian man’s photograph to masquerade as an American Trump supporter watches a video on Facebook, is that view “real”? Not only do we have bots masquerading as humans and humans masquerading as other humans, but also sometimes humans masquerading as bots, pretending to be “artificial-intelligence personal assistants,” like Facebook’s “M,” in order to help tech companies appear to possess cutting-edge AI. We even have whatever CGI Instagram influencer Lil Miquela is: a fake human with a real body, a fake face, and real influence NYMag

Read the rest here – including Max Read’s thoughts on navigating a world of deep fakes,” bullshit propaganda which purports to “redpill” people to the “truth” of everything, and how utterly fake people have become.

Source: ZeroHedge

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AND There Goes Facebook Targeting… Just Like That… Thanks NAR

All it takes is one complaint to HUD? Wow! Really? 

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“HUD filed a complaint against Facebook last week. 

“HUD claimed the social network’s advertising platform allowed users to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers by being able to limit who saw their ads based on the users’ race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors.” ( From REALTOR® Magazine) 

This is interesting because I don’t know even one REALTOR® who uses Facebook ads to discriminate.

Every single person I know who is a member of NAR and runs ads, runs ads to reach their niche audience, their targets- this is called advertising. This has nothing to do with discrimination. 

I doubt any of the employees of the HUD department have ever had to make a living selling  products, services, or real estate. 

My team was starting an ad campaign for an agent this week and we could not target: 

Homeowners!!! 

Homeowners have been removed. 

Tell me, HUD and NAR—- 

If you are a listing agent how in the world is it discriminating to target ONLY homeowners. After all, if we are running a home value ad, why would I want to waste our money on getting our ad in front of 20 years olds who are first time home buyers??? Or renters?  It makes no sense to offer home values on your property to those who don’t own property! 

You have to pay for impressions. This means that your ads just got a lot more expensive becuase of the ignorance of the powers that be at NAR who so quickly run to support these complaints. I highly doubt they have asked any of us what we are doing with our ads. 

Why are they jumping so fast to say they love that Facebook deleted all our targeting?? 

We are running another ad campaign for another agent — and guess what— yep! The Zipcode targeting is gone!!! 

Now, I know that some people say that zip code advertising is discriminating but then why oh why… does the U.S. own government company the United States Postal Service allow us all to target our direct mailing by zip codes?????? 

I am so tired of NAR speaking for all of us but not talking to all of us before they speak!!! 

If we have a million dollar listing we don’t want to waste money on ads going to people who only make $20,000! It is not discrimination, it is common sense marketing. We want to put our listing in front of the best possible buyers who can afford this listing. 

How did Facebook respond? 

Of course, they did not take our backs. They went back with their tail between their legs and got rid of over 5,000 targets we all use in Facebook advertising. Facebook already makes you agree that you are obeying the Fair housing laws when you run real estate ads. Why did they not just fight on this? 

I then went to the NAR website and see the title to their article about this and the title is: 

Realtors® Applaud HUD Decision to Target Online Housing Discrimination

Interesting title since there was NOTHING In the article listing ANY realtor who was applauding this decision except for the NAR President:  

‘National Association of Realtors® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, issued the following statement in support of HUD’s aggressive enforcement of the Fair Housing Act:

“In 2018, as America recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the National Association of Realtors® strongly supports a housing market free from all types of discrimination. However, as various online tools and platforms continue to transform the real estate industry in the 21st Century, our understanding of how this law is enforced and applied must continue to evolve as well. Realtors® commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for taking decisive action to defend fair housing laws, and for working to ensure its intended consumer protections extend to wherever real estate is marketed.” ‘

So where in this article are the many realtors who are so applauding wasting money on needless impressions… and making our ad cost go up way higher! 

What needs to happen in cases like this, is for NAR to do an investigation, survey, round tables, etc. with local agents around the country and find out what kinds of ads they run on Facebook, how they target, and why. Then take that data to HUD, and explain to HUD, about marketing and advertising.

Take our backs; will you!!!! 

Because in actuality how many of those NAR presidents and committees on those higher levels are running Facebook ads daily to get listings and buyers? 

And that is my rant for the day… I am livid!!!”

Source: By virtual Services Marketer, Katerina Gasset | Active Rain

Facebook Removes Their Favorite Ad Options After HUD Complaint

Facebook is removing thousands of targeting options from its advertising platform after the Department of Housing and Urban Development accused the social media giant of discriminatory practices with its housing ads.

HUD filed a complaint last Friday against Facebook that claimed the social network’s advertising platform allowed users to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers by being able to limit who saw their ads based on the users’ race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, disability, ZIP code, and other factors.

“There is no place for discrimination [on our advertising platform],” Facebook stated in response to the HUD complaint. So far, they’ve removed more than 5,000 ad target options to “help prevent misuse,” according to the company. Facebook removed options such as “limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.”

The company also announced that all advertisers in the U.S. will be required to comply with its non-discrimination policy if they wanted to advertise on Facebook.

“While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important,” Facebook said of its decision to remove the target options within its ad platform.

Facebook said it will share more updates to its targeted advertising tool over the next few months as it continues to “refine” it.

The National Association of REALTORS® released a statement this week in support of HUD’s enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and actions against Facebook. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

“As various online tools and platforms continue to transform the real estate industry in the 21st century, our understanding of how this law is enforced and applied must continue to evolve as well,” Elizabeth Mendenhall, NAR president, said in a statement. “REALTORS® commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for taking decisive action to defend fair housing laws, and for working to ensure its intended consumer protections extend to wherever real estate is marketed.”

Source: Realtor Magazine

BOOM: HUD Files Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

Secretary-initiated complaint alleges platform allows advertisers to discriminate

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act by allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination.

HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of ‘targeted advertising.’ Read HUD’s complaint against Facebook.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “When Facebook uses the vast amount of personal data it collects to help advertisers to discriminate, it’s the same as slamming the door in someone’s face.”

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing transactions including print and online advertisement on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. HUD’s Secretary-initiated complaint follows the Department’s investigation into Facebook’s advertising platform which includes targeting tools that enable advertisers to filter prospective tenants or home buyers based on these protected classes. 

For example, HUD’s complaint alleges Facebook’s platform violates the Fair Housing Act. It enables advertisers to, among other things:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;   
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.

Additionally, Facebook promotes its advertising targeting platform for housing purposes with “success stories” for finding “the perfect homeowners,” “reaching home buyers,” “attracting renters” and “personalizing property ads.”

In addition, today the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) filed a statement of interest, joined in by HUD, in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of private litigants challenging Facebook’s advertising platform.

HUD Secretary-Initiated Complaints

The Secretary of HUD may file a fair housing complaint directly against those whom the Department believes may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Secretary-Initiated Complaints are appropriate in cases, among others, involving significant issues that are national in scope or when the Department is made aware of potential violations of the Act and broad public interest relief is warranted or where HUD does not know of a specific aggrieved person or injured party that is willing or able to come forward. A Fair Housing Act complaint, including a Secretary initiated complaint, is not a determination of liability.

A Secretary-Initiated Complaint will result in a formal fact-finding investigation. The party against whom the complaint is filed will be provided notice and an opportunity to respond. If HUD’s investigation results in a determination that reasonable cause exists that there has been a violation of the Fair Housing Act, a charge of discrimination may be filed. Throughout the process, HUD will seek conciliation and voluntary resolution. Charges may be resolved through settlement, through referral to the Department of Justice, or through an administrative determination.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In commemoration, HUD, local communities, and fair housing organizations across the country have coordinated a variety of activities to enhance fair housing awareness, highlight HUD’s fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. For a list of activities, log onto www.hud.gov/fairhousingis50.

 

Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).

Source: HUD.gov

Facebook Asking Major US Banks To Share User Data

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Facebook has asked several large US banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including checking account balances and card transactions, as part of a new push to offer new services to its users, according to the Wall Street Journal

Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, said people familiar with the matter.WSJ

Facebook’s new feature would show people their checking account balances, as well as offer fraud alerts, according to the WSJ‘s sources, while the banks are apparently waffling over data privacy concerns.

The negotiations come as the social media giant has fallen under several investigations over data harvesting, including its ties to political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which was able to gain access to the data of as many as 87 million Facebook users without their consent. 

One large bank withdrew from talks due to privacy concerns, according to the Journal, however Facebook swears that they’re simply trying to enhance the user experience and won’t use any banking data for ad-targeting. 

Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger, a person familiar with the discussions said. The company is trying to deepen user engagement: Investors shaved more than $120 billion from its market value in one day last month after it said its growth is starting to slow.

Facebook said it wouldn’t use the bank data for ad-targeting purposes or share it with third parties. –WSJ

We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” said spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.” 

While banks have been under increasing pressure to build relationships with large online platforms and their billions of product-consuming users, they have struggled to gain traction in mobile payments while trying to reach more customers online. That said, they have been hesitant to hand over too much information to third-party platforms such as Facebook – preferring instead to keep customers on their own apps and websites. 

As part of the proposed deals, Facebook asked banks for information about where its users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger, the people said. Messenger has some 1.3 billion monthly active users, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call last month. -WSJ

Both Google and Amazon have also asked banks to join their online platforms with data-sharing agreements that would provide basic banking services on applications such as Alexa and Google Assistant, according to people familiar with the conversations.

“Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people’s commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service,” said Diana. “An essential part of these efforts is keeping people’s information safe and secure.”

Facebook has beefed up privacy measures since the data harvesting scandal broke – rolling out new features such as “clear history,” allowing users to prevent the platform from collecting their browsing details off-Facebook. It’s also making greater efforts to alert users to their privacy settings. 

That said, bank executives are still concerned over the scope of information being sought by Facebook – and are willing to maintain their distance over privacy issues even if it means not being included on certain platforms that their customers use. 

JPMorgan isn’t “sharing our customers’ off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result,” said spokeswoman Trish Wexler.

Banks view mobile commerce as one of their biggest opportunities, but are still running behind technology firms like PayPal Holdings Inc. and Square Inc. Customers have moved slowly too; many Americans still prefer using their cards, along with cash and checks. –WSJ

In order to crack into the world of online payments and compete with PayPal’s Venmo, several large banks have connected their smartphone apps for quick money-transfers through the Zelle network. While usage has risen, many banks still aren’t on the platform. Meanwhile, Facebook has been trying to turn their Messenger app into a hub for customer service and commerce – “in keeping with a broader trend among mobile messaging services,” reports the Journal

American Express already lets Facebook users contact their customer service department, while PayPal struck a deal with the social media giant to allow users to send money through Messenger. Furthermore, Mastercard cardholders can buy products from certain merchants via Messenger using the card company’s Masterpass digital wallet – while the company says Facebook can’t see card information. 

The initial reaction is positive in Facebook shares – up over 2.5% – but in context of the earnings collapse, Zuck has a long way to go.

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Source: ZeroHedge

Facebook Co-Founder Wants To Slap $3 Trillion Tax On Rich To Pay For Universal Basic Income

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes wants to tax anyone who makes over $250,000 to the tune of nearly $3 trillion over ten years, then use the proceeds to provide universal basic income (UBI) to every working American who makes under $50,000 a year, including those providing services such as child care and elder care.

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Hughes, 34, now devotes his time to evangelizing for higher taxes on the rich, such as himself. He’s proposing that the government give a guaranteed income of $500 a month to every working American earning less than $50,000 a year, at a total cost of $290 billion a year. This is a staggering number, but Hughes points out that it equals half the U.S. defense budget and would combat the inequality that he argues is destabilizing the nation. –Bloomberg

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Hughes, who has a related book coming out, has made tackling income inequality his top priority by partnering with the Economic Security Project – a major recipient of his philanthropic efforts. The group is focused finding solutions to provide “unconditional cash and basic income” in the United States due to the effects of “automation, globalization, and financialization” forcing the discussion. 

The plan would essentially be an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.

The Economic Security Project is a network committed to advancing the debate on unconditional cash and basic income in the United States. In a time of immense wealth, no one should live in poverty, nor should the middle class be consigned to a future of permanent stagnation or anxiety. Automation, globalization, and financialization are changing the nature of work, and these shifts require us to rethink how to create economic opportunity for all. –Economic Security Project

While Hughes notes that the annual $290 billion annual price tag is half the U.S. defense budget, he contends that income inequality is destabilizing the nation – and that there is a “very practical concern that, given that consumer spending is the biggest driver of economic growth in the United States and that median household incomes haven’t meaningfully budged in 40 years,” a Universal Basic Income is vital to maintaining economic national security.   

Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class,” Hughs told Bloomberg at the Economic Security Project’s New York offices at Union Square.

There are many ways to pay for a guaranteed income. However, I do think that the resources can and should come from the people who most benefited from the structure of the economy. We had tax rates at 50 percent for several decades after [World War II]. In the same period, we had record economic growth and broad-based prosperity. I’m not making the case, in the book and in general, that we just need higher taxes. It matters what our tax dollars are going to. Cash is just the simplest and most efficient thing to eradicate poverty and stabilize the middle class. –Bloomberg

You can read the rest of Bloomberg‘s interview with Hughes here.

Source: ZeroHedge

New Study Finds Facebook Page Reach has Declined 20% in 2017

It’s not just you and your Page – according to new research by BuzzSumo, the average number of engagements with Facebook posts created by brands and publishers has fallen by more than 20% since January 2017.

BuzzSumo analyzed more than 880 million Facebook posts from publisher and brand Pages over the past year, noting a clear decline in engagements since early 2017.

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That’s likely no surprise to most Facebook Page managers – organic reach on Facebook has been in decline since late 2013, according to various reports, with continual changes to the News Feed algorithm re-aligning the priority of what users see.

Indeed, in the past year, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has seen a range of updates which could contribute to this decline:

  • In August last year, Facebook announced a News Feed update focused on improving the individual relevance of the stories shown to each user
  • In January, Facebook released a News Feed update which sought to better identify and rank authentic content
  • In May, the News Feed got another tweak, this time to reduce the reach of links to sites covered with ads
  • Also in May, Facebook released a News Feed change which aimed at reducing the reach of clickbait
  • And earlier this month, Facebook re-iterated the need for mobile optimization but announcing that links to non-mobile optimized pages would be penalized.

But then again, none of those changes individually correlates to the decline noted by BuzzSumo, which, as you can see, shifts significantly in January.

As listed above, the January News feed update focused onauthentic contentis not likely to have been the cause of this drop – that was more aimed at weeding out posts that artificially seek to game the algorithm by asking for Likes, and on pushing the reach of real-time content. Maybe Facebook’s increased focus on live, real-time material has had some impact, but it would seem unlikely that it’s the cause of that January drop.

What’s more likely is actually another News Feed update introduced in June 2016, which put increased emphasis on content posted by friends and family over Page posts. Facebook’s always looking to get people sharing more personal updates, and those updates generate more engagement, which keeps people on platform longer, while also providing Facebook with more data to fuel their ad targeting.

In terms of News Feed shifts, this one appears to be the most significant of recent times, but then again, the impacts of that would have been evident earlier in BuzzSumo’s chart. Maybe Facebook turned up the volume on this update in January? It’s obviously impossible to know, and Facebook’s doesn’t reveal much about the inner workings of their News Feed team.

 In terms of which posts, specifically, are driving engagement (or not), BuzzSumo found that:

“The biggest fall in engagement was with image posts and link posts. According to the data video posts had the smallest fall in engagement and videos now gain twice the level of engagement of other post formats on average.”

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Again, video is king – if you’re concerned about declines in your Facebook reach, then video is where you should be looking. Of course, video posts are also seeing reach declines in line with the overall shift, but they’re outperforming all others, and are likely to be your best bet in maximizing your reach on the platform.

So what can you do? However you look at it, Facebook is a huge driver of referral traffic for a great many websites, with many now having an established reliance on The Social Network to push their numbers.

For one, these figures again underline why putting too much reliance on Facebook is a strategic risk. Diversifying your traffic sources and building your own e-mail list is sometimes easier said than done, particularly given Facebook’s scale, but the figures do underline that it’s important to consider how you can maximize your opportunities outside of The Social Network.

In terms of how to improve your Facebook performance, specifically, there are no definitive answers.

Some brands have seen success in posting less often – back in May, Buffer explained that they’ve been able to triple their Facebook reach while reducing their output by 50%. Less is more is an attractive strategy, but whether that’ll work for your business, it’s impossible to say.

Others have switched to posting more often, something Facebook recommends in their own documentation on how journalists can make best use of the News Feed.

“Post frequently – Don’t worry about over-posting. The goal of News Feed is to show each person the most relevant story so not all of your posts are guaranteed to show in their Feeds.”

In fact, Facebook notes that some Pages post up to 80 times per day, which seems excessive, but when you consider both the reach restrictions (less than 5% of your audience will see each of your posts) and the fact that most people will see your content in their News Feed, as opposed to coming to your Facebook Page, the chances of you spamming fans by over-posting or re-posting are far more limited than they used to be.

If you post more often, and you get less engagement per post, that could still average out to increasing your overall numbers – though you need to watch your negative feedback measures (unfollows and unlikes).

Really, no one has the answers, because it’ll be different for each Page, each audience. The only real way to counter such declines is to experiment, to encourage engagement, to spark conversation and generate more reach through interaction. That takes more work, of course, and you then have to match that additional time investment with return.

Again, it’ll be different for every business, there’s no magic formula. But Facebook reach is clearly declining. Worth considering how that impacts your process. 

By Andrew Hutchinson | Social Media Today