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Facebook Limits Content Sharing in Ethiopia to Limit the Spread of Misinformation and Hate Speech



Among the various issues and concerns highlighted by the recent ‘Facebook Files’ internal data leak was the suggestion that content sharing on Facebook is actually one of the most harmful actions, as the ease of amplifying questionable content by simply tapping ‘Share’ significantly increases the amount of people doing exactly that.

Indeed, one of the most recent reports shared by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen indicated that Facebook’s own research has shown that the ‘Share’ option is harmful, particularly in relation to shares of shares.

As reported by Alex Kantrowitz in his newsletter Big Technology:

The report noted that people are four times more likely to see misinformation when they encounter a post via a share of a share – kind of like a retweet of a retweet – compared to a typical photo or link on Facebook. Add a few more shares to the chain, and people are five to ten times more likely to see misinformation. It gets worse in certain countries. In India, people who encounter “deep reshares,” as the researchers call them, are twenty times more likely to see misinformation.”

In other words, the content that tends to see repeated shares is far more likely to include misinformation – which makes sense given the more salacious and divisive nature of such claims.

The question then, however, is what’s Facebook, or Meta, going to do about it, with Haugen claiming that the company has ignored these findings.

Though that isn’t entirely correct. Today, in an update on the measures that were implemented on Facebook specifically in order to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech in Ethiopia ahead of the nation’s recent elections, Meta included this note:

“To address possible viral content, we’re continuing to reduce content that has been shared by a chain of two or more people. We’re also continuing to reduce the distribution of content that our proactive detection technology identifies as likely to violate our policies against hate speech as well as from accounts that have recently and repeatedly posted violating content.”

So Meta is actually looking to implement certain restrictions on post sharing, in line with its previous findings.

Which is good, and given the research, it makes sense. But then again, if Meta is acknowledging that shares of shares are a potential problem, which can contribute to the amplification of harmful posts, why not implement this as a blanket rule – or even further, why not remove the ‘Share’ option entirely to eliminate this type of rapid amplification?

To be clear, if Facebook were to remove the ‘Share’ button, users would still be able to share content.

  • Users would still be able to post article links in their own updates, but they would be more likely to include their own personal thoughts on each, given they’d have to create a new post
  • Users would still be able to react to and ‘Like’ posts, which then increases exposure to their connections, and broader networks, through engagement activity
  • Users would still be able to comment on posts, which also increases exposure based on the algorithm seeking to show the most engaging content to more users

Theoretically, people would also still be able to share posts via message as well, as per this iteration of the Facebook post UI that Facebook tested in 2018, which replaced the ‘Share’ button with a ‘Message’ one instead.

Facebook alternative share

So there would still be options for engaging with content via Facebook, but the research suggests that having a quick ‘Share’ option can significantly contribute to the rapid spread of questionable claims.

Maybe, by removing it, and ideally forcing users to take more time and thought in their process, that would lessen blind sharing, and slow the spread of such posts.

That’s the same theory that Twitter used when it removed straight retweeting as an option for US users in October last year, in the lead-up to the Presidential Election.

Twitter retweets change

As you can see here, instead of allowing users to blindly, and rapidly, retweet any claim, Twitter instead defaulted users to use its ‘Quote tweet’ option, in order, ideally, to get people to think a little more deeply about what they were sharing, as opposed to just re-amplifying content and quotes.

That did have some impact. After reinstating regular retweets in December, Twitter noted that the use of Quote Tweets did increase as a result, “but 45% of them included single-word affirmations and 70% had less than 25 characters”.

In other words, users were a little more hesitant in their sharing activity, but it didn’t inspire a lot more context in the process.

But then again, maybe that’s all that’s required – maybe, all you need is for people to take a minute, to think about the message for a second, and that may well be enough to stop them spreading viral misinformation and false claims.

That’s worked with Twitter’s pop-up alerts on articles that users attempt to retweet without actually opening the article link and reading the post first, with users opening articles 40% more often as a result of that increased friction.

Twitter article prompt

Facebook has now adapted the same, again indicating that there is value in this approach – and again, with its own research showing that shares can be a negative element, why not simply remove the option to prompt more consideration in the process?

Of course, there would likely be impacts on publishers, who might see their referral traffic drop, while it would also impact Facebook engagement overall, by reducing the options for post interaction.

Is that why Meta wouldn’t do it? I mean, it has the data, and it’s already implementing its findings in certain situations to avoid potential harm. Meta knows that a change in its sharing process could have a positive impact.

Why not implement restrictions across the board?

It would be a big step, for sure, and there are various considerations within this. But the research and other indicators all show that Meta knows that this would be effective.

So why not do it, and reduce potential harm through blind re-distribution?


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: Born or made great?



The Big 3 have won a total of 56 Grand Slams in their career.

Ecogastronomy, puppet arts, viticulture and enology, influencer marketing, or bakery science. In 2022, you can become anything you want and there are even specialized undergraduate degrees to help you gain all the relevant skills at university. Essentially, you can now be academically trained in any subject and learn practically everything you need to excel at your job.

In the context of sports, and particularly tennis, this is no different. There are plenty of degrees you can pursue to complement your career as an athlete, physiotherapist, or coach with useful knowledge about the human body, anatomy, and health.

This basically means that professional tennis players of the 21st century can complement their extraordinary talent and training routine with a relevant education and an elite team of professional and eminent physiotherapists, coaches, PR, and strategists. Ultimately, players have countless tools that can help them win matches, stay healthy, and be well-liked by the press and the fans.

You can find these ‘A teams’ all around the tour nowadays: players of the former next gen have taken advantage of their early success to incorporate experts on every specialty into their team and others like Carlos Alcaraz or Holger Rune have come directly in the tour alongside first-class teams headed by former World No. 1 and Slam champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and respected coach Patrick Mouratoglou respectively.

Understandably, tennis legends who have been on tour for almost two decades have progressively adapted to the quest for perfection too. You must remember Novak Djokovic’s radical diet change mid-career or Rafael Nadal’s loyal sports doctor for most of his injury-prone career.

21st-century professional tennis players have learned it all as far as tennis skills are concerned. In fact, objectively any top-100 player can produce Djokovesque cross-court backhands or Nadalese down-the-line forehands any time – we have seen rallies of the highest level in practices, Challengers and junior tournaments.

So, one must think that if every player on the tour can produce top-level tennis and is surrounded by the perfect team, what is stopping them from winning 20+ Grand Slam titles like Nadal, Roger Federer, and Djokovic?

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic — the Big 3

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.

The Big 3 — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic — are living proof that in life there are things you just can’t learn, despite our self-help books saying otherwise. Tennis is different from other mainstream sports in that it remains an individual and extremely mental sport.

These three players belong at a higher level than anyone else, and it is not only the 63 combined Slam titles that separate them from their opponents. It is clearly not their physical form either, quite the opposite currently. It is the ability to remain serene, focused, confident, and indifferent to the crowd, pressure, and expectations, to play one point at a time, whether it is a break or a championship point, and to extract it from the surrounding context.

Being the best of all time does, however, not imply being the better player in all matches. We don’t have to go far back to find an example of a time when Nadal and Djokovic were the clear underdogs in a match. For instance, in Wimbledon 2022 we saw Nadal win a match with an abdominal tear and an average 80-mph serve speed (on a grasscourt!) against Taylor Fritz, a top American player in his best-ever season.

In essence, the three GOATs have had the ability to know how to win even when they are the worst players on the court, and if that greatness is something we all could learn or train for, it would stop being called so and we would see it more often.

Whether it is the experience, intelligence or just intrinsic and unique talent that has led to Big 3’s unprecedented achievements we won’t ever exactly know and, I am afraid, they are giving no opportunity to the so-called Next Gen to even dream of replicating their record book and help us make sense of what it takes to become a tennis master.

In any case, we can only feel extremely fortunate to have lived on the same timeline as the greatest trivalry in sports history. All of us, but the Next Gen, can only hope Nadal and Djokovic do not follow Federer’s retirement path anytime soon. And one only needs to watch their last matches against each other to (rightfully) assume that might not happen anytime soon.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

Poll : Who will end up with most Grand Slam titles?

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram



Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram

It seems like Elon Musk’s chaotic management approach at Twitter is having some broader impacts, with more companies reportedly considering lay-offs in the wake of Musk culling 70% of Twitter staff (and keeping the app running), and Meta now apparently also considering charging for blue checkmarks in its apps.

Yes, the Twitter Blue approach to making people pay for verification, which hasn’t proven overly popular on Twitter itself, is now also seemingly in consideration at Meta as well.

According to a new finding by reverse engineering pro Alessandro Paluzzi, there’s a new mention in the codebase of both Facebook and Instagram of a ‘paid blue badge’.

Paluzzi also shared a screenshot of the code with TechCrunch:

That does appear to refer to a subscription service for both apps, which could well give you a blue verification badge as a result.

Mets has neither confirmed nor denied the project, but it does seem, at least on the surface, that it’s considering offering checkmarks as another paid option – which still seems strange, considering the original purpose of verification, which is to signify noteworthy people or profiles in the app.

If people can just buy that, then it’s no longer of any value, right?

Evidently, that’s not the case, and with Twitter already bringing in around $7 million per quarter from Twitter Blue subscriptions, maybe Meta’s looking for a means to supplement its own intake, and make up for lost ad dollars and/or rising costs of its metaverse development.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I guess, if people will pay, and the platforms aren’t concerned about there being confusion as to what the blue ticks actually mean.

I guess, more money is good?

Meta has, in the past, said that it won’t charge a subscription fee to access its apps. But this, of course, would be supplemental – users wouldn’t have to pay, but they could buy a blue checkmark if they wanted, and use the implied value of recognition for their own purposes.

Which seems wrong, but tough times, higher costs – maybe every app needs to start digging deeper.

Meta hasn’t provided any info or confirmation at this stage, but we’ll keep you updated on any progress.

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YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta’s Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023



YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta's Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023

YouTube Shorts and Meta’s Reels are both making
headway in the intensely competitive video shorts sector.  

During Alphabet’s Q4 earnings call on Thursday, CEO Sundar Pichai reported that YouTube Shorts has surpassed 50 billion
daily views. That’s up from the 30 billion reported in Q1 2022.

However, it still …

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