With Great Power Comes Potential For Abuse

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News Agencies AP have an agenda who knew meme landscapeWho else made money out of the ALS ice bucket challenge this summer? A Forbes article asks this question directly about Facebook.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised considerably more than $100 million for research into degenerative neurological disease. That’s great. But the whole phenomenon was also pretty great for Facebook, which saw a huge, extended surge of usage, particularly video consumption, around the summer-long campaign.

Ice Bucket Challenge videos were viewed more than 10 billion times and reached more than 440 million people, according to Facebook. The company is capitalizing on all that momentum by trying to recruit top YouTube personalities to bring their content to its platform, according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook is also adding vanity metrics to its videos to underscore their growing popularity.

Absolutely the right question to ask. I don’t begrudge anyone making a living, and I’m glad in some spheres of the media, we have an inquisitive press.

Now imagine this: lets say this article so upset Facebook’s owners, that they called up the algorithm team and said “could you just push Forbes down in the news feeds please?”. And the team replies “yes, sure, anything you say boss.” And suddenly Forbes traffic drops by 20%. We’ve already seen earlier this year that, just for academic kicks, Facebook manipulated the emotions of it’s users by adjusting what they saw and didn’t see in their news feeds.



I don’t believe it would happen over this article, but can you see the problem?

Which isn’t to say there should be government regulation of the internet (hell no) but anytime, in any sphere, when single players get too big, this kind of problem creeps in. Facebook is the dominant monetising social media platform of the era. Google makes its money in another way, Twitter makes no money.

To relate this to Israel: the three main news gathering agencies (AP, Reuters, AFP) are so dominant that who they choose as sources and the choices of what they report have a disproportionate effect on the entire perception of Israel. In Israel, in particular, these agencys’ people all hang out together, along with the foreign funded NGOs like HRW, and partake in a kind of group think. They are almost in lock step with their reporting.

There is so much to learn from the revelations about AP and right now, one single AP report, founded entirely on baseless accusations by the widely discredited Human Rights Watch NGO, is surging around the world and there is barely anything to counter it.

The middle layer of the news dissemination system we have today (the outlets you actually read) are just making money by spreading the stories from the newswire services. One bad AP story is turned into thousands of bad stories, each one fed back into Google News and sent out via Google Alerts.

Unless those newswires are drastically changed, the flow of negativity from those who hate Jewish Israel will continue.

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