The Weekly Download – May 20, 2016

The Weekly Download - May 20, 2016How’s your week been? Thanks so much for all the support and great feedback you’ve been sharing with me. Now let’s get at the latest stories about digital communications that caught my attention over the past week, and feel free to share your comments about these topics too.

Bias and Facebook’s “Trending Topics”

I can’t remember which story it was but when we started Ada’s Sisters, one of our friends who is a journalist called us out for being biased because we only presented one side of the story. We argued and rightly so, that our community was being built by and for people who are interested in our thoughts about women and digital culture, not for our reporting. And, I should add Angela my co-host is also a journalist who spent many years working at the CBC. It’s not our place to report the news; there are plenty of other sources doing just that. Rather, it’s a platform for us to share our opinions. The same can be said about this blog.

Deciding what to share in this column is a personal decision. I make it clear that I’m sharing stories that have resonated with me over the past week and I add some context through my personal lens. I invite you to provide your comments as well and to share your ideas for upcoming stories.

The same can’t be said about Facebook. It’s trying to build its reputation as a respected news curation source with the “Trending Topics” feature. Until now, did you assume Facebook’s Trending Topics were selected through an algorithm? I did and assumed they were chosen by how much engagement (likes, comments, shares) the stories received on Facebook. Why else would we keep seeing stories about Kim’s butt, The Biebs and reality TV stars instead of “real” news? Well, maybe we assumed wrong.

As reported first in Gizmodo, some of Facebook’s former contract news curators were instructed to follow guidelines – guidelines that were leaked online – and included selecting national stories that were popular on at least three of a list of news outlets. Gini Dietrich gives a full run-down of the guidelines plus a shout out to the late great, The Good Wife, but I digress. Allegedly, there was a bias against conservative-leaning stories. Unlike personal blogs and podcasts, news outlets and journalists are held to a higher standard and expected to report the news in an objective manner.

Facebook is taking these allegations very seriously and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with critics on Wednesday. Conservative media personality, Glenn Beck attended and gives us a whole other perspective of what’s really going on here and it’s frightening. (Hat tip to Gini Dietrich.)

One commenter said this entire issue could have been avoided had Facebook been more transparent with users about how it’s “Trending Topics” were selected. At face value, I agree. But maybe there’s a hidden agenda and we’re the pawns. What do you think?

#WeTheNorth #WeTheOther

The NBA playoffs are in full swing and the Toronto Raptors have made it into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time ever – Go Raptors! Sometimes it’s hard being an outsider and in the case of our home team, they’re the only one based in Canada. With Drake as their biggest fan, you’d think it would be hard for them to go unnoticed but that’s exactly what happened this week when published a poll asking fans who was going to win this year’s playoffs. The poll asked “Who will win the NBA title?” The options were: Warriors, Thunder, Cavaliers, Other. Once Raptors fans learned about the omission, they expressed their outrage on social media and created the #WeTheOther hashtag in protest – a play on the celebratory #WeTheNorth. But it didn’t end there. Toronto Mayor John Tory got in on the act. Barely missing a beat, he sent off a letter to Sean McManus, Chairman of CBS Sports expressing his disappointment with a bit of tongue-in-cheek. Needless to say, his letter went viral.

Check out the line:
“We’re not the slightest bit offended. In fact, we’re accustomed to being underestimated. Just a few days ago LeBron James said he was looking forward to playing the Heat — a team that is now golfing.”
And then he signed off as “John Tory, Mayor of Toronto (aka “other”)”. Pure awesome.

Twitter extends the length of a tweet

Don’t worry, Twitter isn’t reversing its decision NOT to introduce a 10,000-character limit on tweets. But it is allowing us to go beyond the 140-character limit by excluding URLs from the character count. According to CEO, Jack Dorsey, the change is being made to make Twitter easier for new users. Expect to see it implemented over the next few weeks. How many times have you written that perfect tweet only to find by the time you’ve added your link and an image (almost a necessity these days if you want your tweet to be seen) that you’ve exceeded the character limit by a hair and need to do some editing on the fly? Well, soon your worry will be over. Current best practice is to keep your text to fewer than 100 characters so that by the time you’ve added your link and image, your tweet will be retweetable. With the upcoming change, you should be able to nudge it up to 120 characters. Happy tweeting!

Ada’s Sisters – Episode 37

We were back in the studio this week. Once again, we have a story of a woman being held to a dress code that has nothing to do with her profession. Thank goodness Google is set to release 13 new emojis to represent working women (and none of those graphics include 2-inch heels). Are you tired of hearing complaints about Sophie Grégoire Trudeau too? We’ll tell you why we think this non-issue is a snoozer. And then we have some tool tips — from Wayne MacPhail reporting on a new annotation tool for the iPad, to the shameless props Angela gave my 30-Day Crowdfunding Toolkit – it’s FREE, so what are you waiting for?

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site