August 29, 2018 By Zak Mehan
Fake News is now a widely-acknowledged global problem. Media and technology companies are working to combat the spread of misinformation, but these bad actors seeking to spread misinformation are adapting just as quickly.
Axios published an important rundown on how subversive propaganda machines are changing in 2018, with the central tenet that it’s “all about avoiding detection”.
The overall strategy is to look more authentically human – scheduling posts to match typical human activity, using stolen rather than fake accounts and targeting real individuals that have already segregated themselves across party lines. The preference for stolen accounts has increased the use of malware attacks on social media users to obtain access to real users’ profiles to leverage in botnets (a group of hijacked devices/accounts that are activated by a hacker).
Bots, in general, will become more sophisticated, hitting more targets. These now include blogs and comment sections on websites, where bots are used to post misinformation or foment conflict between other users.
New channels are also gaining popularity for reaching audiences on an individual level. In particular, encrypted messaging apps have been hotbeds for sharing fake news in a format that is hard to track and regulate. Even more nefarious are “dark texts”, an untraceable form of communication that enables political campaigns to text millions of people without asking permission first.
Finally, A/B testing will play an increasingly large role in determining messaging, memes and stories that are pushed across digital channels. Rapid testing features will be used to identify the most powerful content to put in from of users to shape discussions ahead of elections.
While this isn’t directly threatening to companies in the immediate term, these tactics could be used to attack businesses or industries in ways that are fluid and difficult to monitor, let alone contain. Companies should stay close to these issues to understand the new normal that bad actors are developing.
One trend that has emerged but has been slow to materialize is the tighter segmentation across social media channels by smaller, more focused groups and audiences. This includes the growth of topic-specific apps (think Fishbrain, the social network for fishing enthusiasts) and, more recently, larger social media platforms adding new features and affording greater prominence to group functions within the app.
The potential is more highly-engaged groups that find more utility and “meaningfulness” – to borrow a topical term – in the time they spend on the respective social media site or app.
Another recent example is Instagram’s college community feature. Young users going to school will soon be able to use a feature that places them within a community or channel specific to their school, allowing them to see events around campus, network with fellow students or share information.
Of course, there is a major longer-term upside for digital advertisers from this tightening. Users are effectively self-selecting ad targeting characteristics. They will also, assumedly, be more engaged on the platform, making them more likely to view and respond to advertising. Facebook recently added its pixel tracker to Groups, allowing marketers to do exactly this.
We advise our clients to keep an eye on groups and communities on all apps related to their business or industry. These could become powerful tools for reaching – and keeping an eye on – an engaged audience.
We promise our thoughts on content aren’t limited to augmented reality plaudits, but we saw a pretty cool and innovative use of the new technology this week that we wanted to share.
Did you ever go to the airport and see those carry-on baggage size checkers and think “this would have been way more useful before I brought my bag all the way to the airport”? If so, you’re in luck.
Dutch airliner KLM added a new feature to its mobile app that does exactly that. Users can open the app and conjure up a virtual piece of luggage the dimensions of carry-ons allowed on their flight, then overlay the virtual bag on their own to make sure it’s not too big.
This is a small feature but a great example of putting some cool tech to use for your stakeholders. It’s a reminder that companies shouldn’t just use technology for the sake of technology or build content for the sake of content but fuse the two into a package that stakeholders can find useful and valuable.
YouTube’s non-skippable ads are coming to more video creators engadget
P&G Files to Trademark Some Millennial Phrases Bloomberg
Artificial Intelligence Ushers in Human-Centric Engineering Discipline WSJ
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