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Facebook Publishes New Whitepaper on Standardized Online Content Regulation

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Facebook has certainly changed its tune on broader web content regulation in recent times.

Back in 2017, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and various other concerns, Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple all increased their spending on lobbyists in order to combat proposals from US senators in regards to increased internet regulation, preferring instead to maintain their own regulatory systems and govern their own processes as they aw fit.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg softened on this in 2018, telling CNN that: “I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated”, in response to a query around transparency. Then last year, Zuckerberg published an opinion piece in The Washington Post, in which he called for “new rules” for the internet, and outlined the specific case for more definitive government regulation.

As per Zuckerberg:

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it – the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things – while also protecting society from broader harms.”

So, Facebook went from” “we don’t want any more government interference” to: “we need government oversight to implement universal safety controls, and ensure there’s a level playing field for all platforms working to police web content”.

It’s a significant shift, as noted, but given the various legal challenges and official policies being put in place around the world in order to hold Facebook, and other online providers, more accountable for the content that they host – and the additional costs that such rules are adding to Facebook’s bottom line – it makes sense that the company would want to clarify a more defined baseline, while also putting the onus on a third party to dictate what’s acceptable and what’s not, shifting the blame for such decisions away from its team.

Now Facebook’s taken the next step on this front – this week, The Social Network has published a new whitepaper which outlines the key questions that need to be addressed in order to implement universal content regulation for web entities, and build a strategic framework for such rules moving forward.

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As noted in the paper:

“Since the invention of the printing press, developments in communications technology have always been met with calls for state action. In the case of internet companies, however, it is uniquely challenging to develop regulation to ensure accountability.”

The whitepaper aims to address four key questions which Facebook says underpin the broader debate:

  • How can content regulation best achieve the goal of reducing harmful speech while preserving free expression? By requiring systems such as user-friendly channels for reporting content or external oversight of policies or enforcement decisions, and by requiring procedures such as periodic public reporting of enforcement data, regulation could provide governments and individuals the information they need to accurately judge social media companies’ efforts.
  • How can regulations enhance the accountability of internet platforms? Regulators could consider certain requirements for companies, such as publishing their content standards, consulting with stakeholders when making significant changes to standards, or creating a channel for users to appeal a company’s content removal or non-removal decision. 
  • Should regulation require internet companies to meet certain performance targets? Companies could be incentivized to meet specific targets such as keeping the prevalence of violating content below some agreed threshold.
  • Should regulation define which “harmful content” should be prohibited on the internet? Laws restricting speech are generally implemented by law enforcement officials and the courts. Internet content moderation is fundamentally different. Governments should create rules to address this complexity — that recognize user preferences and the variation among internet services, can be enforced at scale, and allow for flexibility across language, trends and context. 

​Essentially, Facebook’s saying that there are content regulations in place for all other forms of media, and similar should be in place for web entities – which would lessen the burden on Facebook, and other platforms, to decide for themselves what is and is not acceptable, while also instituting a baseline measure across all social networks and entities.

This is important, because Facebook knows that it runs the risk of losing users to other platforms if it goes too far with its content regulations. If, for example, Facebook were to implement tougher rules on hate speech, maybe that would prompt users to switch across to another platform with more lax regulation – but if the rules were not defined by Facebook itself, and all platforms needed to abide by the same requirements, that concern is diminished. 

Free speech has long been a key tenet of social platforms, with Twitter and Reddit, in particular, reiterating their commitments to free expression over time. But as we’ve witnessed more recently, the capacity for social platforms to become hosting grounds for more controversial content, and the subsequent movements and challenges that such can create, can be particularly problematic. This is especially true at Facebook’s scale – with 2.5 billion monthly active users, the capability for such messages to be amplified is significant. It makes sense for Facebook to want to establish more universal rules around what is and is not acceptable.     

We’re still a long way from the next level of web content regulation – and Facebook notes that it plans to publish “similar papers on elections and privacy in the coming months”. But it’s an important discussion to have, and it will be an important debate to keep tabs on as discussions continue around the potential of more universal web content rules, in various forms.

You can read Facebook’s full “Charting a Way Forward” whitepaper here.

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5 Effective Ways to Run Facebook Ads A/B Tests

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Facebook Ads A/B Tests or split tests help them try different versions of ads with various campaign elements. This process helps them arrive at the best version for the organization’s target. 

A/B Tests offer a vast pool of resources to try out various versions. You may get caught up and lose your way to arriving at the best version in a limited time. To better understand this topic you can read the Facebook ad testing guide. Here are five effective ways to run Facebook Ads A/B Tests-

1) Start with the minimal number of variables

This approach will help you analyze the impact of a variable much better. The lesser the variables, the better will be the relevant results and more conclusive. Once you have various versions, you will need to run them through the A/B Significance Test to determine if the test results are valid.

2) The second way is to select the correct structure. 

There are two structures in A/B tests. One is a single ad test, and the other is multiple single variation ad sets. All the variations will go under one ad set in the first structure. Each variation will be under a separate ad set in the second one. Out of the two, the second one works out to be better and gives better results.

3) Use of spreadsheets is important to stay organized. 

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These spreadsheets help collect and analyze data to get meaningful insights and arrive at data-backed decisions.

4) Do target advertising and set realistic time goals. 

One approach is to choose an entirely new set of audiences. Also, the data pool should be vast and not the same as some existing campaigns. The reason for choosing a different audience is that Facebook may mix up your ads and give contaminated output. 

Another approach to choosing the right audience is to pick geography. It works better, especially when you have business in a particular region.   

It’s also essential to set a realistic timeline for your testing. Facebook suggests one should run a test for at least four days, but you can choose to run the test for up to 30 days.   

5) Set an ideal budget. 

The concept of a perfect budget is subjective. But, you can fix it yourself, or Facebook can do that for you based on your testing data. A large part of the test budget is spent on avoiding audience duplication. If the same audience sees variations, it could affect the test results.

Besides these top five effective ideas, you will need to take a few more action points to make the testing process efficient. Make sure you put the website’s domain link and not the landing page link in the ad, as that doesn’t look good. Put appropriate Call To Action Button, such as ‘Learn More,’ ‘Buy Now,’ etc. It’s also important to see how your ad is coming across on various electronic gadgets- mobile, tablets, etc.

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Another strategy that works is trying to engage the customer. You may add social engagement buttons such as ‘Like’ or ‘Comment.’ Use high-resolution images as they work better with the customers. Low-quality, highly edited images are often not liked and trusted by the consumers.

You can learn more about the audience behavior patterns with A/B test results. Conducting these tests on Facebook streamlines the entire process and makes it smooth for you. With the test results, advertisers and marketers can work on the creatives they need to utilize.

To sum it up, you can run an effective A/B test campaign within the specified budget. You don’t need to spend massive amounts to get your advertisement right. You’ll make the correct assumptions about the performance of variations with a good understanding of business and consumers.

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