Welcome back to another instalment of The Weekly Download! This week we’re chatting about the internet’s net neutrality day of action, Instagram’s new AI-powered spam filter, Canadians share their feelings about Sears on social media, Facebook’s newest social venture and some Friday Fun to help kick off your weekend!
Net neutrality day of action
You probably heard about net neutrality this week.
Feeling confused? Here’s the low-down:
Last year, the FCC began the process of dismantling the net neutrality rules it adopted in early 2015. Without these rules, internet service providers could be free to control the way we interact online, from blocking us from viewing particular sites, or charging you extra to view particular content.
On July 12, over 200 web companies and activists from Amazon to Etsy participated in net neutrality day of action. Participants updated their websites with statements and banners to communicate the potential issues that could come with an internet without net neutrality rules.
The elimination of net neutrality rules could result in stifled free speech online for individuals and a slew of other consequences for businesses. Look for next week’s episode of Ada’s Sisters for more on this topic.
Instagram launches new AI system to combat hateful comments
Facebook’s DeepText tool is making the move to Instagram in an effort to reduce spam and hostile comments. The system, based on a concept called word embeddings, is designed to mimic the way language works in our brains.
DeepText grades comments on a scale from 0-1, depending on how offensive or inappropriate they are deemed to be. If the comment scores above a certain threshold, it is flagged and hidden. Similar to a spam filter, comments are rated based on an analysis of the text and other factors, like the relationship between the commenter and the poster, and user history.
While the comment will be hidden from all other users on the app, the original poster will still be able to see it: this is DeepText’s effort to make the system harder to game.
According to Instagram, all other comments will appear as they normally do and you can still report comments, delete comments or turn them off. For now, the filter is only available in English but will remove spam written in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.
Sears Canada faces backlash on social media
Think back to 2014 — do you remember when comedian Mike Myers appeared in a Sears Canada commercial with his brother Peter? The ad was a hit. It featured the Myers brothers using humour to spread the message that Sears wasn’t shutting down along with the hashtag #MyBrotherWorksAtSears.
Now fast forward to 2017 — Sears Canada is still promoting the ad and hashatg on their YouTube page, but there’s one major difference: Peter Meyers no longer works at Sears.
Last month, Sears laid off Myers, an employee with over 35 years of service, with no severance due to a court-supervised restructuring process. Canadians aren’t happy with Sears for their treatment of employees and former employees, and they’re voicing their concerns as so many others in 2017 do — on social media.
The fact that Sears is still promoting their #MyBrotherWorksAtSears ad is certainly a lesson in reputation (and channel) management.
Facebook is building a Houseparty lookalike
Word is out that Facebook is working on a new standalone app that’s similar to Houseparty — a popular app for teens that “notifies a user’s friends whenever they have the app open, inviting them to hang out virtually on their smartphones”.
The app is currently being demonstrated internally for employees under the working name of Campfire. The app could be released as early as this fall and supports Facebook’s newly released mission statement which focuses on building tight-knit communities.
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