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Publishers Have A Window Of Opportunity To Change Google And Facebook

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Data-Driven Thinking is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Mike Shaughnessy, COO at Kargo.

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As we come out of the fog of 2020, we must remember the five incredibly important investigations happening right now that affect the way content is discovered, consumed and paid for.

First, a striking US lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission alleges that Facebook is a monopoly and demands its break up. Second, ten states are suing Google for anti-competitive behavior, including its “monopolistic” dominance in advertising marketplaces.

The industry has long called for such regulatory efforts, but let’s not sit back and hope they turn out in favor of the independent publishers. We need to keep our voices loud to remind lawmakers of the importance of justice for our industry.

The other side of the world shows what can happen when publishers lose their voice during these processes. In Australia, Google and Facebook are getting a valuable concession in the form of legislation focused on how the two giants pay publishers for content.

In the new statute, Google and Facebook can provide value to news publishers through traffic procurement. But there’s a catch. There’s no absolute value for a publisher’s traffic in the law, so Google and Facebook could argue that the traffic they deliver has the same value as what a publisher’s content is worth, meaning Google and Facebook might not have to pay publishers anything for their content.

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This justification is exploitative because publishers lack bargaining power against the conglomeration of Google’s and Facebook’s clench on traffic.

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This example epitomizes the two-faced behavior when these two companies waver between acting like a friendly “traffic driver” in one instance, but then also acting like a publisher in the next, by showcasing content on their own sites. Actually, they’re both. In being both a player and a referee, these companies present a monopolistic advantage over every other website. Publishers can be an asset to the FTC by highlighting the severity and harm of that double-sided personality.

While the FTC has ordered technology giants to provide data on how they collect, use, and present personal information, as well as their advertising and user engagement practices, US publishers need to demonstrate a comprehensive argument that conveys how the platforms’ ability to control traffic (through search and social feeds), content (with Google News, Facebook News, YouTube, AMP and more) and even ads (Google search algorithms and Chrome ad blocking) is inherently anticompetitive.

Categorize The Platforms Or Split Them Up

We must remind lawmakers that these problems extend into every aspect of the media industry. Publishers have had little control over their site traffic for decades, and are now allowing the platforms to also control content distribution. We must band together to stop it while we have this unique opportunity to be heard.

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In the United States, the industry criticized Google for a rule rolled out across its Chrome browser in May to block “heavy” ads. This algorithmic, and somewhat arbitrary, decision directly affects publisher ad revenue. The algorithm blocked the premium home page banner on the New York Times. There is no publisher on earth that has the means to block ads from showing on the New York Times. But Google, which owns Chrome as well as Google News, can do it. This omnipresent control needs to end.

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This argument also stretches across Google’s (and Apple’s) ability to arbitrarily drop third-party cookies and the IDFA with no revenue accommodation for the affected publisher sites.

Publishers should have the leverage here, for what would Facebook and Google be without them? But how do they express their disdain for these monopolies’ ability to manage nearly all of the traffic on the internet while also controlling what content people see? To date, publishers have not united to address these issues inherent to Google’s and Facebook’s business models.

Now is the time to create that argument. The Better Ads Coalition, the IAB, and the W3C are the main entities that exist to create standards for all that touches Google and Facebook. But not one of these entities can provide regulation broad enough to truly counteract the issue.

After publishers fought back against Google AMP, a limited platform that didn’t fairly compensate them for mobile traffic, Google made concessions to improve it. Chrome is talking about “FloCs” as a one-to-many replacement for cookie targeting in W3C talks, but these battles are just child’s play for these giants. With the FTC now paying attention to Facebook, publishers can create a comprehensive public statement about the unfair practices of both platforms and expect a more substantive response.

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Publishers need to lay the truth out clearly:

  • Google search algorithms and Facebook news feeds directly determine who gets traffic and how. The percentage of referred traffic from these two alone represents the majority of many sites’ total traffic.
  • Chrome browser settings block ads (and ad revenue) from publishers with no regulation or reasoning. With cookies and IDFA going away, ad targeting goes away on publisher sites.
  • Google and Facebook directly compete with publishers for their own viewers by showcasing content on their sites across Google News, Facebook News, YouTube and more.
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The states reportedly collaborated with publishers to put their suit together, so we have a friendly ear. With 100 top publishers working together, we could finally see some traction, some movement to expose and manage the insane amount of control these two companies currently have over the digital media industry. The FTC might be listening. Facebook and Google might be listening. Publishers should start talking.

Follow Kargo (@kargo) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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