My Five #291

This week we’re building computers with Bert & Ernie, creating imaginary eyeballs with Facebook and taking some important social media advice from a man with impressive dreads – it’s My Five.

You are reading: My Five #291

Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Mollie.

1. Unilever to ditch influencers with made-up followers

Thanks to the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing concepts of the digital marketing field.


Whilst 48% of US marketers are planning to increase the budget allocation for influencer-led campaigns, Unilever – the giant responsible for household staples such as Vaseline, Domestos, and the controversial condiment that is Marmite – is doing the exact opposite.

With more and more social media stars getting in on the act, some influencers are resorting to buying followers and fabricating interactions in order to appear more desirable to brands and stand out in an increasingly saturated market. This can have a damaging effect on the reputation and authenticity of the brand names involved. Plus, brands could be paying a premium for a celebrity endorsement that’s less influential than they had been led to believe.

Unilever hasn’t suggested that they will boycott celebrity influencers altogether, but the firm will not work with influencers who purchase followers as part of a wider strategy to help wipe out some of the underhand marketing tactics that currently exist in the digital world.

2. Take that fake news!

Whilst we’re on the topic of digital marketing skulduggery, Eyeo, the team behind AdBlock Plus, has developed an extension called TrustedNews aimed at enabling readers to be a little more informed when it comes to fake or biased news online.

Once installed, a new icon will sit in the top-right hand corner of the user’s browser and display a different warning symbol depending on the validity of content on the web page they’re viewing.

Currently TrustedNews can identify the following content:

  • Biased content: Politically biased or distorted information
  • Malicious content: A website that attacks your computer with malware, phishing, and all manor of nasty spyware
  • Clickbait: Content that encourages readers to click on embedded hyperlinks and inflate traffic to a particular website by promising them invaluable knowledge or a huge promotional discount (and normally delivering neither)
  • Satire: Content that might be based on recent politics or news headlines but with a sarcastic tone or exaggeration in order to generate humour. (Take this content with a very large pinch of salt)
  • Unknown: This means that there is not enough information on the site for TrustedNews to perform a true analysis
  • Untrustworthy: A website that actively publishes fake/misleading information or ‘news’
  • User-Generated content: i.e Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs

It’s early days for TrustNews and there are a few limitations (at the moment). Firstly it’s currently only available as a Chrome extension – so Firefox and Safari users will have to sit this one out for now – and there are still several sites that it can’t assess accurately yet due to lack of data. But it’s a promising start and it will be interesting to see how it develops, plus it’s free, so why not give it a go?

3. What an eye-opener…

As if Facebook hadn’t done enough to earn its creepy ‘stripes’ recently, now researchers at the platform are experimenting with technology that can remove closed eyelids in a photograph and replace them with open eyes.

The algorithm uses two separate networks to recognise a person’s eyes and place them into the image and, although facial correction tools such as red eyes caused by camera flashes and mismatched skin tones have been on the market for a while, this is the first technology that can replace blinking eyes in a picture with wide-open peepers of the correct colour and shape.

Facebook's new eye opening technology

But don’t get too excited, there’s currently no plan to roll out this technology to the general Facebook population, although if it gets us sharing more content, I’m sure it will become a standard feature at some point in the future.

4. Beware the ‘great Silicon Valley spying empires’

I did promise you impressive dreads…

Computer philosopher Jaron Lanier warned viewers in a recent interview for Channel 4 that social media content is having an impact on our behaviour and state of mind, making us ‘kranky’ and ‘more depressed’.

Having been there during the birth of the internet and as a man who is celebrated as one of the founders of virtual reality, Jaron paints a refreshingly honest yet unsettling picture of what is really happening to us psychologically as a result of our social media addiction.


Jaron Lanier interview on how social media ruins your life

If you haven’t already seen it, grab yourself a brew and watch this very interesting insight from a very knowledgeable source.

5. Cookie Monster swaps chocolate chips for computer chips

Kano, a UK-based start up computer company aimed at young people has received capital investment from Sesame Ventures – part of the makers of Elmo, Big Bird and all our other friends down on Sesame Street. The two companies will work together to provide tools and inspiration to children so they can learn technical skills such as coding and app development and start to build their own technology.

With the government estimating that 90% of jobs in 20 year’s time will require digital skills, this is fantastic way to start getting children engaging with how technology works and hopefully inspire some of the digital minds of the future.

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