Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Jun 8, 2018)


In this week's Marketing in the Digital Age, several subjects of A.I. have come up and Facebook has a breach of data, again.  With A.I. rapidly progressing and coming into the forefront of media, what type of regulation needs to be in place to keep humanity protected? 

Facebook Breaches Data of its Users

Summary: New York Times reported this week that Facebook gave 60 device makers access to users' data and that of their friends without express permission.  Facebook denies this.  However, they have confirmed that a data-sharing partnership with Chinese firms including Huawei (a company flagged by US intelligence as a security threat).  Apparently the information transferred was stored only on a user's device, not Chinese company servers.  

Opinion: A lot of what has been happening in the social media space has gone unchecked, largely because it's a new arena and the implications from it haven't been planned for or  contemplated.  I imagine that will quickly change with the massive breaches Facebook has undergone the past several months.  

Google Won't Use A.I. for Evil

Summary:  Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced yesterday an emphasis of Alphabet's philosophy of "don't be evil" when he confirmed that Google won't use its A.I. tools for weapons or surveillance.- with some caveats.  It will work with the government and military on cybersecurity and surveillance but nothing that violates "internationally accepted norms".   

Opinion: What is one woman's/man's evil is not necessarily the other's.  A.I. is coming, but as you see from the Facebook breaches, a level of regulation also needs to be set here to ensure humanity's safety.  Using a vague avoidance of what violates "internationally accepted norms" could likely vary on more subtle points from one person to the next (or one country to the next country).

A.I. Training in the Dark Corners of Reddit

Summary: Researchers at MIT trained an artificial intelligence psychopath machine, Norman (as in Norman Bates), using Reddit.  The purpose was to show that the data used to train machine learning algorithms influences its behaviors.  “Norman suffered from extended exposure to the darkest corners of Reddit,” the researchers state, “and represents a case study on the dangers of artificial intelligence gone wrong when biased data is used in machine learning algorithms.” Example of what Norman responded with: 



Opinion: See opinion above.  Don't let it get to be a problem before potential solutions and regulations are explored! 

@tinycarebot vs. @infinite_scream

Summary: Two Twitter bots have been stuck on a seemingly endless loop of "conversation" for hours on Twitter.  @infinite_screeam will respond to any tweet with a poignant "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH" while @tinycarebot sends out uplifting, emoji-filled messages. So every uplifting tweet is met with virtual screams.  

Opinion:  Hah, just a stupid and fun way to go into the weekend before A.I. takes over writing these blogs for me.  

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending 4.20.18)


Jet skiing + seeing Kimmel live, all for charity of course... 

Donate-to-Win: Oscars' Jet Ski + Seeing Kimmel Live  

Summary/opinion: Remember the jet ski from the Oscars?  I thought Kimmel was kidding when he said he would award it to the person with the shortest acceptance speech.   Well, he wasn't kidding, and it was generously donated by costume designer Mark Bridges to MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund), an organization for which I am on the board.  It's just $10 to enter and it all benefits current and retired members of the entertainment committee.  

YouTube Ads on Extremist Channels

Summary: CNN uncovered ads from prominent brands like Under Armour, Nordstrom, Amazon, Adidas, and even tax-funded ads from the government, ran on hundreds of extremist sites without advertiser knowledge. 

Opinion: I agree with eMarketer's Nicole Perrin's comment that the most effective way for this to stop is for brands to pull out advertising on YouTube.  Once their bottom line is hit, the changes will come swiftly to prevent unwanted associations of this kind.  

What Zuckerberg Didn't Say About What Facebook Knows About You

Summary: Facebook does track data on website you visit that use your Facebook login info and is converted into a set of "ad interests".  Even when you opt out of interest based ads, Facebook still continues to track you only just without using your own data.  Regulators are coming to the conclusion that our personal data is too sensitive, and too lucrative, to be left unchecked. 

Opinion: It's like an episode of Black Mirrors, our personal data being used and exploited for profit and political manipulation.   Sadly, it's real life and a level of regulation should be set forth.  The challenge will be creating that regulation since this is a new space and this amount of information harvesting hasn't been seen in the past.  Regulators also don't have experience with this area of business, so that in and of itself is another challenge.  Maybe this is a job for, ahem, consultants to work with them on creating sound pieces of regulation.

Twitter Doesn't Care People are Building Bot Armies in SE Asia

Summary: A number of Twitter users have reported an influx of bot follower requests.  Bot followers tend to have no profile pic and few to zero tweets.  They have been coming out of Southeast Asia and have been following influential voices in regions.  Particularly with Southeast Asia, Facebook has been beset with controversies from inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam.  

Twitter has issued no comments on the behavior. 

Opinion: I almost forgot about you, Twitter.  If you have learned nothing else from the problems of YouTube and Facebook, learn that you need to get on this issue before it becomes a bigger problem.