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Facebook Clashes with the US Government Over Vaccine Misinformation



facebook clashes with the us government over vaccine misinformation

It seems like Facebook may be on a collision course with the US Government once again, this time over the role that it may or may not be playing in the amplification of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, which has been identified as a key impediment in the nation’s path to recovery from the pandemic.

On Friday, when asked directly about vaccine misinformation on Facebook, US President Joe Biden responded that ‘they’re killing people‘ by allowing vaccine conspiracy theories to spread.

Biden’s comment came a day after the White House also noted that it’s been in regular contact with social media platforms to ensure that they remain aware of the latest narratives which pose a danger to public health

As per White House press secretary Jen Psaki:

“We work to engage with them to better understand the enforcement of social media platform policy.”

In response to Biden’s remarks, Facebook immediately went on the offensive, with a Facebook spokesperson telling ABC News that it “will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts”.

Facebook followed that up with an official response today, in a post titled ‘Moving Past the Finger Pointing’.

At a time when COVID-19 cases are rising in America, the Biden administration has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies. While social media plays an important role in society, it is clear that we need a whole of society approach to end this pandemic. And facts – not allegations – should help inform that effort. The fact is that vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the US has increased. These and other facts tell a very different story to the one promoted by the administration in recent days.”

The post goes on to highlight various studies which show that Facebook’s efforts to address vaccine hesitancy are working, and that, if anything, Facebook users are less resistant to the vaccine effort, in opposition to Biden’s remarks.  

Which is largely in line with Facebook’s broader stance of late – that, based on academic research, there’s currently no definitive link between increased vaccine hesitancy and Facebook sharing, nor, on a similar path, is there any direct connection between Facebook usage and political polarization, despite ongoing claims.

In recent months, Facebook has taken a more proactive approach to dismissing these ideas, by explaining that polarizing and extremist content is actually bad for its business, despite the suggestion that it benefits from the related engagement with such posts.

As per Facebook:

“All social media platforms, including but not limited to ours, reflect what is happening in society and what’s on people’s minds at any given moment. This includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. For example, in the weeks leading up to the World Cup, posts about soccer will naturally increase – not because we have programmed our algorithms to show people content about soccer but because that’s what people are thinking about. And just like politics, soccer strikes a deep emotional chord with people. How they react – the good, the bad, and the ugly – will be reflected on social media.”

Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg also took a similar angle back in March in his post about the News Feed being an interplay between people and platform – which means the platform itself cannot be fully to blame:

The goal is to make sure you see what you find most meaningful – not to keep you glued to your smartphone for hours on end. You can think about this sort of like a spam filter in your inbox: it helps filter out content you won’t find meaningful or relevant, and prioritizes content you will.”

Clegg further notes that Facebook actively reduces the distribution of sensational and misleading content, as well as posts that are found to be false by its independent fact-checking partners.

“For example, Facebook demotes clickbait (headlines that are misleading or exaggerated), highly sensational health claims (like those promoting “miracle cures”), and engagement bait (posts that explicitly seek to get users to engage with them).”

Clegg also says that Facebook made a particularly significant commitment to this, in conflict with its own business interests, by implementing a change to the News Feed algorithm back in 2018 which gives more weight to updates from your friends, family, and groups that you’re a part of, over content from Pages that you follow.

So, according to Facebook, it doesn’t benefit from sensationalized content and left-of-center conspiracy theories – and in fact, it actually goes out of its way to penalize such.

Yet, despite these claims, and the references to inconclusive academic papers and internal studies, the broader evidence doesn’t support Facebook’s stance.

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Facebook has been working to change the way that its own data analytics platform works, in order to restrict public access to insights which show that far-right posts and misinformation perform better on the platform than more balanced coverage and reports.

The controversy stems from this Twitter profile, created by Times reporter Kevin Roose, which displays a daily listing of the ten most engaging posts across Facebook, based on CrowdTangle data.

Far-right Pages always dominate the chart, which is why Facebook has prevously sought to explain that the metrics used in creating the listing are wrong, and are therefore not indicative of actual post engagement and popularity.

According to the NYT report, Facebook had actually gone further than this internally, with staffers looking for a way to alter the data displayed within CrowdTangle to avoid such comparison.

Which didn’t go as planned:

“Several executives proposed making reach data public on CrowdTangle, in hopes that reporters would cite that data instead of the engagement data they thought made Facebook look bad. But [Brandon] Silverman, CrowdTangle’s chief executive, replied in an email that the CrowdTangle team had already tested a feature to do that and found problems with it. One issue was that false and misleading news stories also rose to the top of those lists.”

So, no matter how Facebook was looking to spin it, these types of posts were still gaining traction, which shows that, even with the aforementioned updates and processes to limit such sharing, this remains the type of content that sees the most engagement, and thus, reach on The Social Network.

Which, you could argue, is a human problem, rather than a Facebook one. But at 2.8 billion users, giving it more potential for content amplification than any platform in history, Facebook does need to take responsibility for the role that it plays within this process, and the role it can potentially play in amplifying the impact of such in the case of, say, a pandemic where vaccine fear-mongering could end up costing the world an unmeasurable toll.

It seems fairly clear that Facebook does play a significant part within this. And when you also consider that some 70% of Americans now get at least some news content from Facebook, it’s clear that the app has become a source of truth for many, which informs what they do, including their political stances, their civic understanding. And yes, their view of public health advice.

Heck, even flat earthers have been able to gain traction in the modern age, underlining the power of anti-science movements. And again, while you can’t definitively say that Facebook is responsible for such, if somebody posts a random video of flat earthers trying to prove their theory, that’s probably going to get traction due to the divisive, sensational nature of that content – like this clip for example:

Flat Earth video

Videos like this attract believers and skeptics alike, and while many of the comments are critical, that’s all, in Facebook’s algorithmic judgment, engagement.

Thus, even your mocking remarks will help such material gain traction – and the more people who comment, the more momentum such posts get.

8 out of 10 people might dismiss such theories as total rubbish, but 2 might take the opportunity to dig deeper. Multiply that by the view counts these videos see and that’s a lot of potential influence on this front that Facebook is facilitating.

And definitely, these types of posts do gain traction. A study conducted by MIT in 2019 found that false news stories on Twitter are 70% more likely to be retweeted than those that are true, while further research into the motivations behind such activity have found that a need for belonging and community can also solidify groups around lies and misinformation as a psychological response.

There’s also another key element within this – the changing nature of media distribution itself.

As Yale University social psychologist William J. Brady recently explained:

“When you post things [on social media], you’re highly aware of the feedback that you get, the social feedback in terms of likes and shares. So when misinformation appeals to social impulses more than the truth does, it gets more attention online, which means people feel rewarded and encouraged for spreading it.”

That shift, in giving each person their own personal motivation for sharing certain content, has changed the paradigm for content reach, which has diluted the influence of publications themselves in favor of algorithms, – which, again, are fueled by people and their need for validation and response.

You share a post saying ‘vaccines are safe’ and probably no one will care, but if you share one that says ‘vaccines are dangerous’, people will pay attention, and you’ll get all the notifications from all the likes, shares and comments, which will then trigger your dopamine receptors, and make you feel part of something bigger, something more – that your voice is important in the broader landscape.

As such, Facebook is somewhat right in pointing to human nature as the culprit, and not its own systems. But it, and other platforms, have given people the medium, they provide the means to share, they devise the incentives to keep them posting.

And the more time that people spend on Facebook, the better is for Facebook’s business.

You can’t argue that Facebook doesn’t benefit in this respect – and as such, it is in the company’s interests to turn a blind eye, and pretend there’s no problem with its systems, and the role that it plays in amplifying such movements.

But it does, it is, and the US Government is right to take a closer look at this element.

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024



Make money blogging


Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.


Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?




Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach



Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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