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. Two sugars for me please, Boris
BoJo’s found himself in a bit of bother the past couple of weeks following some questionable comparisons he made between Muslim women who wear burkas and ‘letterboxes’.
This caused a furious backlash from many readers (and let’s face it, probably a lot of people who never actually read the article) who were understandably offended by the comments, and called for a public apology from the politician.
However, when reporters arrive at his home to question the man himself, Boris defused the situation by greeting the mob armed with a tray full of tea – which, of course, went viral on social media. Johnson advised the paps, “I’m here purely on a humanitarian mission as you’ve been here all day, and you’ve been very patient… but I have nothing to say about this matter except to offer you some tea”.
“I have nothing to say about this matter except to offer you some tea…”
@BorisJohnson greets the media armed with a tray of mugs amid burka row pic.twitter.com/5wknsuUBTH
— ITV News (@itvnews) 12 August 2018
Whatever your opinion on Boris’ latest stunt, he’s certainly doing a crafty job of distracting us from Brexit and the effects of our woefully understaffed police force.
2. Spotify lets non-paying customers skip ads
The music streaming service is testing out an option that allows non-paying users to skip ads. The idea is to enable users to personalise the ads they hear – keeping the ones they are interested in and skipping the ones they’re not. The new “Active Media” feature is currently only being piloted in Australia, but could be expanded out to other markets if successful.
But what do the advertisers think of it all?
Sam Kang, VP of media and acquisitions at Dollar Shave Club, says the company considers their Spotify advertising as “one of [the] key pillars in our marketing”. However, he seems pretty thrilled with the new feature, saying “as an advertiser, I love it… As a user, I love it, too”.
It’s worth pointing out that advertisers won’t pay for ads that consumers skip, so Spotify are taking a bit of a gamble with their advertising revenue. It’ll be interesting to see whether the feature makes its way over to the UK in the near future.
3. Facebook feature goes down like a lead balloon
Facebook is quite frankly having a ‘mare of a year, and has put its foot in it again this month following the deadly earthquake in Lombok several days ago.
The social media giant recently introduced a new text animation feature that recognises ‘congratulations’ in a post and provides suitably celebratory animation. However…
In Indonesia the word ‘selamat’ has several meanings; it can mean ‘congratulations’ but in other contexts it means ‘unhurt’ or ‘to survive’. (You can see where I’m going here).
Unfortunately, Facebook hadn’t done its linguistics homework, and users posting about their safety during the disaster found their messages adorned with balloons and confetti.
Facebook apologised for the mishap and the feature has been removed locally, however, I’m sure it does very little towards removing the salt from the wounds of those affected.
It seems that arming a bunch of kids with a bucket of paint and encouraging them to graffiti a pony has become a thing at children’s birthday parties. Unsurprisingly, this has caused a bit of a furore and a petition has been launched to #BanPonyPaintingParties.
A spokesperson from My Happy Equine, who supply the pony paints to party providers, defended the company’s involvement in the bizarre – and somewhat disturbing – craze: “All my products are 100% non toxic and vegan friendly… I also supply products to colleges who use my paints to teach students the equine anatomy, RDA centres and therapy centres”.
Whilst it is reassuring to know that partakers are not decorating horses with lead-laced toxic paints, the product itself isn’t really the issue here. Campaigners are more concerned about the fact that we seem to be sending mixed signals to children, punishing them for drawing on sofas and living room walls but then teaching them that drawing on other living animals for our own entertainment is an acceptable thing to do.
The petition page launched on change.org states that “allowing children to treat animals as play things risks teaching a bullying, self-entitled mentality with a severe lack of empathy” and I can’t say I disagree.
If you’d like to show your support, the petition can be found here.
I’m rounding off this week’s My Five with some wise words on the future of AI from the dopest man in pop, Will.i.am.
The mega-music mogul launched the i.am.angel Foundation in 2009 to “TRANS4M” lives through education and opportunity and whilst speaking at the World Government Summit in February this year, Will described how “We are so ingrained in yesterday that we cannot see the opportunities for a better tomorrow. So we need to ensure that our children are given the skills and tools to work with the technology of the future and not to fear AI.”
This week on the Thrive Global Podcast, Will explains why it is important that we keep human spirituality at the heart of AI, using Star Wars as an entertaining but spot-on analogy.