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Facebook releases a glimpse of its most popular posts, but we don’t learn much

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Facebook is out with a new report collecting the most popular posts on the platform, responding to critics who believe the company is deliberately opaque about its top-performing content.

Facebook’s new “widely viewed content reports” will come out quarterly, reflecting most viewed top News Feed posts in the U.S. every three months — not exactly the kind of real-time data monitoring that might prove useful for observing emerging trends.

With the new data set, Facebook hopes to push back against criticism that its algorithms operate within a black box. But like its often misleading blogged rebuttals and the other sets of cherry-picked data it shares, the company’s latest gesture at transparency is better than nothing, but not particularly useful.

So what do we learn? According to the new data set, 87% of posts that people viewed in the U.S. during Q2 of this year didn’t include an outside link. That’s notable but not very telling since Facebook still has an incredibly massive swath of people sharing and seeing links on a daily basis.

YouTube is predictably the top domain by Facebook’s chosen metric of “content viewers,” which it defines as any account that saw a piece of content on the News Feed, though we don’t get anything in the way of potentially helpful granular data there. Amazon, Gofundme, TikTok and others also in the top 10, no surprises there either.

Things get weirder when Facebook starts breaking down its most viewed links. The top five links include a website for alumni of the Green Bay Packers football team, a random online CBD marketplace and reppnforchrist.com, an apparently prominent portal for Christianity-themed graphic T-shirts. The subscription page for the Epoch Times, a site well known for spreading pro-Trump conspiracies and other disinformation, comes in at No 10, though it was beaten by a Tumblr link to two cats walking with their tails intertwined.

Image Credits: Facebook

Yahoo and ABC News are the only prominent national media outlets that make the top 20 when the data is sliced and diced in this particular way. Facebook also breaks down which posts the most people viewed during the period with a list of mostly benign if odd memes, including one that reads “If your VAGINA [cat emoji] or PENIS [eggplant emoji] was named after the last TV show/Move u watched what would it be.”

If you’re wondering why Facebook chose to collect and present this set of data in this specific way, it’s because the company is desperately trying to prove a point: That its platform isn’t overrun by the political conspiracies and controversial right-wing personalities that make headlines.

The dataset is Facebook’s latest argument in its long feud with New York Times reporter Kevin Roose, who created a Twitter account that surfaces Facebook’s most engaging posts on a daily basis, as measured through the Facebook-owned social monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

By the metric of engagement, Facebook’s list of top-performing posts in the U.S. are regularly dominated by far-right personalities and sites like Newsmax, which pushes election conspiracies that Facebook would prefer to distance itself from.

The company argues that Facebook posts with the most interactions don’t accurately represent the top content on the platform. Facebook insists that reach data, which measures how many people see a given post, is a superior metric, but there’s no reason that engagement data isn’t just as relevant if not more so.

“The content that’s seen by the most people isn’t necessarily the content that also gets the most engagement,” Facebook wrote, in a dig clearly aimed at Roose.

The platform wants to de-emphasize political content across the board, which isn’t surprising given its track record of amplifying Russian disinformation, violent far-right militias and the Stop the Steal movement, which culminated in deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol in January.

As The New York Times previously reported, Facebook actually scrapped plans to make its reach data widely available through a public dashboard over fears that even that version of its top-performing posts wouldn’t reflect well on the company.

Instead, the company opted to offer a taste of that data in a quarterly report and the result shows plenty of junk content, but less in the way of politics. Facebook’s cursory gesture of transparency notwithstanding, it’s worth remembering that nothing is stopping the company from letting people see a leaderboard of its most popular content at any given time — in real-time even! — beyond the its own fear of bad press.

TechCrunch

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Binance’s BNB Chain to Offer New Decentralized Storage System

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Binance’s BNB Chain to Offer New Decentralized Storage System

The release of the decentralized storage system’s white paper was having a modest effect on the price of other storage tokens on Wednesday. Filecoin (FIL), storj (STORJ), and arweave (AR) are now trading 2%, 5% and 6%, respectively, above their pre-announcement prices.

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Set Sounds Absolutely Delightful, Thanks To Rachel Brosnahan’s Adorable Pig Story

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Rachel Brosnahan playing Midge in the Season 4 trailer for Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Over the course of four seasons, and soon a fifth installment, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has managed to one-up themselves and make the scale bigger, the set pieces more extravagant and the monologues snappier. While all of this has been amazing for us viewers, one-upping yourself every time must be quite stressful, and it has been according to Rachel Brosnahan. However, she also came up with an adorable way to de-stress and help the cast and crew by hiring therapy pigs. This also goes to show just how delightful the set of this Prime Video show seems, even during stressful moments. 

Filming Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which went on to win many Emmys in 2019, the cast and crew had taken on a much bigger challenge than they did in Season 1. By traveling around the world, and upping the ante overall the stress levels were high. However, Rachel Brosnahan revealed that she had a “delightful” stress relief activity planned involving therapy pigs, truly showing how wonderful this set seems. The actress behind Midge Maisel started her story about therapy pigs by setting the scene on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, saying:  

So this is actually from our second season, we shot ten episodes during our second season, that’s the only time we ever did that, we never tried it again. We started the season in Paris, we traveled to the Catskills, we were on the move a lot. It was a really, really tough season. The crew was really tired. And toward the end of the season, someone had told me about this service in New York, where you can order therapy pigs to come to your workplace and make you feel better. And so, I brought therapy pigs to set and it was kind of incredible.



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Amazon’s renewable energy portfolio swells to over 20 GW

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Amazon's renewable energy portfolio swells to over 20 GW

Amazon increased its renewable energy capacity by 8.3 GW in 2022, bringing its total portfolio to over 20 GW, enough to power millions of US homes.

Growing to become one of the largest global companies by market cap comes with great responsibility. The bigger the operations, the more damaging they can be to the environment with more energy use, carbon emissions, etc.

After the pandemic shuttered most people inside their homes, online shopping became a go-to for many.

As a result, e-commerce giant Amazon saw its business surge, with an over 200% rise in profits as shopping habits turned digital. To offset the company’s explosive growth, it has been investing in renewable energy projects and other sustainable activities to reduce its environmental impact.

Since 2014 Amazon has been on a mission to decarbonize its business globally by adding renewable energy capacity and electric vehicles to its fleet while striving to make packaging more efficient.

The e-commerce giant committed to rolling out over 100,000 EDVs from Rivian by 2030 as part of its Climate Pledge. According to Amazon’s latest update, over 1,000 Rivian EDVs debuted this past holiday season to make zero-emission deliveries.

Amazon-renewable-energy
Amazon Rivian EDV (Source: Amazon)

Amazon’s renewable energy portfolio expanded in 2022

Meanwhile, the company added significant clean energy capacity last year to help it reach its goal of powering operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its goal.

Amazon announced today it set a new record for the most renewable energy purchased in 2022, adding an additional 8.3 GW through 133 new projects in 11 countries.

Altogether, Amazon now has over 20 GW, enough to power 5.3 million US homes. The clean energy capacity is spread throughout 401 projects (164 wind farms and 237 rooftop solar projects) in 22 different countries. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Amazon remains the most prominent corporate buyer of renewable energy, maintaining the position since 2020.

Once complete and operational, Amazon expects to generate 56,881 GWh of clean energy annually.

Head of sustainability research at BloombergNEF, Kyle Harris, says Amazon’s clean energy portfolio is now among the leading utilities globally, adding:

The fact that it announced a new annual record of clean energy in a year mired by a global energy crisis, supply chain bottlenecks, and high interest rates speaks to its forward planning and expertise in navigating power markets and executing long-term contracts.

Despite economic uncertainty, Amazon stood by its commitment last year, doubling down on its renewable energy efforts.

Electrek’s Take

You have to give credit where credit is due. Amazon is doing its part by deploying hundreds of clean energy projects across the globe.

Amazon says renewable energy reached 85% of its business in 2021. By doubling down this past year, the e-commerce giant is now on track to hit its goal of powering business operations with 100% renewable five years ahead of schedule.

However, the company still has a lot of work to do to lessen its environmental impact. According to research from Statista, packaging accounts for the most significant share of greenhouse gas emissions in the e-commerce industry, accounting for 45% of total emissions.

Amazon has also made strides in reducing emissions by reducing per-shipment packaging weight by 38% (eliminating over 1.5 million tons of packaging), optimizing materials, and offering vendors incentives to use fully recyclable materials.

The e-commerce giant is making significant progress in its renewable energy goals, yet there’s still a long way to go in reducing packaging waste and energy usage overall.

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