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The Latest Hearing of Big Tech CEOs Was Another Missed Opportunity for Real Progress



So what did we learn from the big tech CEOs’ appearance before the  House Energy and Commerce Committee this week?

Not a lot. As with most of the other, similar hearings we’ve seen, where Government officials get a chance to publicly question the leaders of the major tech platforms, most of the queries devolved into over-simplifications of process, which served no real purpose and seemed to get us no closer to advancing the key focus on improving how social platforms, in particular, address the spread of misinformation and the facilitation of hate speech.

Indeed, as several others have noted, it seemed more like the Senators were intent on catching Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Pichai out, pushing them to accept responsibility for various events with simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses to their questions.

Which makes some sense. As Rep. Doyle notes in this clip, each representative only has an allotted time to question each person, and that pressure, you could see, forced some to try and get what they saw as ‘straight answers’ in order to appease their concerns.

The problem is, as each of the men noted, the answers are generally not so simple, and they can’t be narrowed down into binary response. Well, that and there’s no way that they’d want to accept any legal liability for such, if they can feasably avoid it.

Of course, Facebook and Twitter did play a role in facilitating various movements and trends that lead to the Capitol riot.

For years, Facebook hosted thousands of QAnon groups and Pages, with millions of members, before it eventually moved to boot them from the platform completely back in October, while Facebook was also where hundreds of ‘Stop the Steal’ groups initially gained traction, which eventually lead to the protests at the Capitol in January.

Indeed, there’s clear evidence that activists used the reach of both platforms to promote the protest action.

Stop the Steal post on Facebook

Both Twitter and Facebook did move to ban ‘stop the steal’ content, but again, with examples like this, you have to accept that they both played some role in the process. 

The problem is that, if Zuckerberg says ‘yes, we bear responsibility’, that could lead to legal action from those impacted, so of course, Zuck and Co. will move to explain the situation, rather than get caught out. The frustration is that everybody knows this – all of the representatives knew that these were the types of responses they’d get, and none of those answers move us closer to addressing the key issues, and moving forward with a more evolutionary policy on such.

This exchange from Rep. Doyle gets closer to the heart of the issue:

Doyle: “How is it possible for you not to at least admit that Facebook played a leading role in facilitating the recruitment, planning and execution of the attack on the Capitol?” 

Zuckerberg: “I think that the responsibility here lies with the people who took the actions to break the law and do the insurrection” 

Doyle: “But your platforms supercharged that”

Basically, we already know this – Doyle isn’t addressing that last comment as a question, he’s stating it, because we all know that this is true. The challenge now is progressing, from a policy standpoint, and setting out clearer rules for how we combat such moving forward. That may require increased regulation, which is what this session was seemingly intended to address.

But we didn’t get that, and that is a missed opportunity, which will further delay such development.

In essence, this is what Zuckerberg, Pichai and Dorsey were getting at. Each had laid out their proposals for a way forward in their pre-published statements, and that’s what should have been addressed. We know what happened in January, and what’s taken place over the last four years, but rather than pointing fingers, now is the time to work on how we change things, and it should have been an opportunity to discuss the various proposed approaches and assess their potential merits.

It seems, in many cases, such trials become opportunities for political point-scoring, rather than problem-solving, which is disappointing, as now is the time, in the wake of such incidents, to use the momentum of recency to set down clearer goals and strategies.

Each platform is still taking its own approach, and each has its own ideas. The role of Government in this instance is to bring those ideas to the table, and form a framework that will apply to all, working under the same process to tackle the concerns.

We’re not there yet, and going on these hearings, we’re still a way off. 

Indeed, it seems the biggest news to come out of the hearing was that Jack Dorsey ran a Twitter poll during the session, which highlighted his frustrations.

Really, the focus should be less about pinning the leaders down, and catching them out, and more about assessing a way forward. And the opportunity to do that is right now.


Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition



Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes



Twitter Experiments with Reply Filters, Timeline Controls, and the Capacity to Search Your Tweet Likes

Amid the various large-scale changes at Twitter, the platform is also working on some smaller tweaks and updates, which may or may not ever get released, but could provide valuable functionality for many users.

First off, Twitter’s testing the ability to search through your Likes, so you can find out who, specifically, has liked your tweets.

That could help you glean more context when reaching out to someone, or just another way to understand who’s responding to your tweets.

And it could be particularly valuable as a research tool for marketers in understanding their audience and who they’re reaching with their tweets.

Twitter’s also testing a new way to filter your replies, which could be handy if you get a lot of responses to a tweet.

Tweet reply sorting

I mean, I’m not sure how many people are getting so many replies to their tweets that they need a filtering option, but for those that are, this could be a simple way to ensure you’re staying up on the most relevant responses and responders, to better manage your engagement.

Finally, Twitter’s also experimenting with new timeline settings, which would provide more control over your timeline and pinned lists.

Twitter timeline controls

Note also, in the middle screen, that Twitter’s developing an option that would enable you to hide your tweet view counts, which would provide another way to manage your activity in the app.

As noted, all of these are in test mode, with Twitter engineer Andrea Conway posting them for public opinion, before exploring further development. But they could be handy, and while they’re not game-changers as such (which may mean they get less priority), smaller tweaks and updates like this could be significant for certain users, and could make it easier to manage your tweet activity.

We’ll keep you updated on any progress.

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Fed-up accountant 'shocked and disappointed' after his Facebook account is taken down again



Fed-up accountant 'shocked and disappointed' after his Facebook account is taken down again

A fed-up accountant has spoken of his “disappointment” after his Facebook page was taken down AGAIN. Last July, we told how Suleiman Krayem feared …

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