March 16, 2018 By FTI Consulting
This week we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin for the latest development in digital communications, and of course when we can expect to book our ticket to visit Mars. As such we are indebted to Casey Newton for his thorough investigation into attitudes towards social media at the conference. SXSW has long been a hive of social media innovation – bear in mind that Twitter was popularised at the festival in 2007. However, this year there was a notably different sentiment to conversations around social media, as excitement had turned to concern.
Rather than keen anticipation for “what’s to come” discussions reflected on issues of misinformation, polarisation and hate speech. This was most powerfully outlined by Sadiq Khan reading out a sample of some of the racist tweets he regularly receives. A similar questioning of social media platforms’ ability to regulate themselves was reflected closer to home. MPs called for Twitter to look again at Russia’s misinformation campaigns on British politics as it was revealed that Twitter underplayed the scale of the interference. Even this week, as Twitter takes steps to curb the ability of publishers to disseminate misinformation, the question remains whether this will be enough or whether we will see increasing government regulation.
29th birthdays can be tricky to navigate. The exciting 20s drifting away, responsibility and serious matters await ahead. There can be tears. Well this week our very own world wide web turned 29 and its creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee appears to think that it is time it grew up. In Berners-Lee’s view the first step towards maturity is to lessen the dominance of Google and Facebook. In his annual letter he stated that the concentration of these platforms allows them to “control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared”. In addition to concerns around freedom of expression, Berners-Lee stated that by locking in their position at the top, the tech companies may limit innovation by acquiring the competition. He also highlighted the work that organisations like Web Foundation are doing to close the gap between those who are online and offline, to create greater access for education on digital skills. No sector is immune from disruption, so we’ll all keep our ear to the ground for the latest innovations in the industry, and you’ll of course be the first to hear from us.
If you’ve been diligently reading your Friday Downloads nice and carefully, you may remember a couple of weeks ago we highlighted that social media platforms shifting their algorithms had caused the untimely departure of digital publisher, LittleThings. Well it seems that digital publishers may be exploring new avenues to avoid a similar fate. One such path untrodden may well be Pinterest – and publishers are interested in it for more than brides-to-be scrapbooking their future wedding.
Given how the platform functions, the relationship between Pinterest and publishers could even become symbiotic. Just to remind you, the idea of Pinterest is that “Pinners” search for inspiration on the platform by topic or theme, clustering around hashtags. It seems that brands and publications are uniquely placed to offer interesting, engaging content. Whether Pinterest can overcome its reputation of being uncommunicative with publishers and tempt in new publications and brands, remains to be seen.