My Five #303

With spoiler alerts on social media, Facebook losing its grip on engagement and tattoos in exchange for free pizzas, it must be time for My Five.

You are reading: My Five #303

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 Ali.

1.Bodyguard and the social media spoiler

With its superb script and un-bel-ievable plot twists, the BBC’s new gripping thriller, Bodyguard, starring Keeley Hawes and Richard Madden has gripped the nation: 10.4 million people watched the first episode, apparently making it the most successful drama of the decade.

As well as being superbly executed, the other aspect of the drama that’s got everyone taking is that it’s on terrestrial TV. In our binge watching era, where we expect the next episode to be instantly available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, we’ve got to wait a whole seven days for the next installment.

Whilst our nerves might not be able to take more than one episode per week anyway, this return to ‘old fashioned’ viewing has cooked up a bit of a storm on social media. Spoilers are nothing new in the digital age, but due to the sheer volume of people watching the programme, it has exacerbated the problem for fans.

Various journalists and publications have got in to hot water by over-sharing, and even if the spoiler isn’t spelled out in detail, is just knowing there’s a spoiler, a spoiler in itself?  Even one of the drama’s stars got in on the act by tweeting but no-one is sure if that’s a double bluff – perhaps a spoiler about a spoiler?

Watching terrestrial television just got complicated. Perhaps stay off social media if you haven’t caught up on your favourite watch yet, and probably avoid the water cooler at work too. This one’s just too gripping not to talk about, on or offline.

2.Is Facebook losing its grip on engagement?

The amount of time people are spending on Facebook is dropping according to new data from Nielsen, although users are turning more towards Instagram which is owned by the same company. At this point in time it is only a small, but not insignificant drop: a 7% reduction in time spent on the platform to date. However, Instagram users spent 38% more time over the past year.

Facebook is rebuffing critics by saying it’s quality not quantity of time that matters and to some extent this is true but when that is combined with only a 3.5% increase in users vs. Insta’s 15%, it must be worrying times at Facebook HQ.

Even more concerning for the platform, is that it is no longer the ‘must have’ social media service of choice for the next generation. A study by Common Sense Media cited that only 15% of those aged 13 to 17 said their ‘go-to social site’ was Facebook, down from 68% in 2012.

Experts are citing a number of factors such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal but some of this decline has simply got to be a generational shift. It’s not cool to wear the same clothes as your parents, or to listen to the same music. Kids have an innate need to rebel and their choice of social media platforms will surely follow that pattern?

3.Meme War

Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s fundamental principles of openness, freedom and creativity in the world wide web are being challenged this week by new EU laws: the EU Copyright Directive.

There are two specific sections that have proved particularly controversial, and critics believe they could point to an end to the internet as we know it.

The first is Article 11 which would require news corporations to be paid when their stories are hosted – or linked to – from social media outlets. Of course, the news outlets are pretty pleased about this but Facebook, Google and Twitter, less so. Exactly what constitutes a ‘share’ is not entirely clear with some suggesting that even a few words could lead to a charge.

As well as the so called ‘hyperlink tax’ above, the other area of contention is Article 13 – dubbed the ‘upload killer’.

In short, it will require the big web companies to filter out copyrighted material. Similarly to the news organisations, this law could potentially benefit musicians and writers who feel they do not currently benefit from their intellectual property being shared online.

Critics, however, say that the algorithm required to filter out copyrighted material will favour bigger companies and smaller organisations may not be able to afford the technology to ensure that they aren’t crossing what could be a very expensive line. And there is also doubt about whether any algorithm can be taught to understand the parody or context of a meme and therefore, it is likely that memes will be filtered out altogether.

The next phase is for the Directive to be discussed between members of the EU Parliament, the European Commission and the members states. The next vote takes place in Spring 2019 and the results will be much scrutinised.

4.Facebook is already trying to understand memes

It’s unclear whether the release of this story was specifically timed to coincide with the EU Directive above, but Facebook has announced that it is already trialling a system to help it understand memes.

Using AI, the system (called Rosetta) helps Facebook understand when text is used within an image – something that it normally wouldn’t be able to read. By flagging this up, Facebook can then try to work out the theme, classify the meme, and try to report abusive or inappropriate content.

With increasing pressure on social media platforms to have more control over the content that is shared on their sites, especially hate speech or harmful content, it’s a positive step forward. It’s not without its difficulties though, in terms of the sheer volume of memes to assess and the variety of languages that they need to scan.

5.Tattoos for pizza – Dominos’ marketing blunder

A particular branch of Domino’s Pizza in Russia ran a fairly short lived and on the face of it, totally unsuccessful marketing campaign this week when the company announced that customers who got a tattoo of the chain’s logo, would receive 100 free pizzas for 100 years. The only stipulation was that the tattoo has to be visible and bigger than 2cm.

Although a step too far for many of us, it appears that many Russians didn’t think so and the company was soon inundated with images of its customers’ shiny new tattoos.

The Dominos Forever campaign was due to run from the end of August until the end of October but the company was forced to close the promotion soon after launch saying ‘Friends, we already have 350 participants!’

However the word didn’t get to everyone, and people were reportedly still having tattoos designed days later. Those customers must be fairly pizzed off but perhaps it wasn’t such an unsuccessful campaign if it’s got everyone talking about the brand around the world.


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