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💣💣Pay for Facebook, Atomic newsfeed and ending fake news

This week sees the last in the series on the future of social networking, specifically following the
💣💣Pay for Facebook, Atomic newsfeed and ending fake news
By Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani) • Issue #65 • View online
This week sees the last in the series on the future of social networking, specifically following the fall out of Facebook’s visit to the US congress. The focus is on changing business models, information warfare and fake news and asks more questions than it answers in my mind. What do you think?
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Cheers - Riaz

Would you really pay?
Plenty are demanding Facebook to switch to a subscription model. Facebook earns around $15 per month for each user so would you pay that much? Or would you be happy to keep going on the free, share your data approach?
Facebook clearly thinks the former does not work but there were hints in the testimony to Congress that it is being actively considered, whilst still leaving open the option of free access. 
I am not sure Facebook gives $15/month of value personally and I do not see Facebook restricting features to paid subscribers to increase that value. 
I tend towards the view that take up would therefore be very low initially. But if Facebook fails to change perceptions around its thirst for data, the number of paying users increases over time.
The problem for Facebook is twofold. As those numbers grow, its advertising reach decreases, reducing the value to advertisers. Secondly, the people most likely to pay are the more well off. The very people advertisers will want to reach. 
So rolling out subscriptions for any length of time is suicide for Facebook.
Facebook is losing the PR battle right now and they will need to be seen to act. Their privacy update didn’t really have much impact such is the momentum against them right now.
I believe we will eventually see a public trial of a subscription option and then a rapid closing after it fails so that Facebook’s underlying business model is not threatened.
Can we assign fake news to the dustbin?
Fake news has been around since the beginning of time - it is just easier and faster to spread than ever before.
But that is also true of valuable content. Learning how to distinguish between real and fake content is key here. I wonder if this is the equivalent of our parents not being able to use the VCR, whilst it was natural for youngsters. 
Can we teach our young to distinguish between the fake and real content? Is that enough?
We need to try.
Facebook thinks artificial intelligence is the answer to stopping fake news - and this might be true one day but it isn’t true today or for the next few years.
We need another solution and we need it quickly.
Atomic newsfeeds
Companies often live inside a bubble, ignoring threats from unexpected avenues. They have been conscious of the hacking threat to the information they hold on their servers if only because of the number of companies being successfully attacked in recent years. 
Protecting its network therefore was obvious to Facebook but they missed the wood from the trees when it came to information warfare. 
Their own employees have ran tests on how the news feed algorithm could change the mood of its members. The knowledge was there inside Facebook, but supposedly they never connected the dots and identified this as an external threat. 
The majority of Americans use Facebook as their source of news and I would be surprised if the number was not similar in the UK. 
This leaves newsfeeds vulnerable to manipulation and valuable to manipulators but can we really rely on Facebook to manage this. This feels like something that should be independently monitored. 
Have social networks matured to the point where we can integrate it into the processes that underpin our society? What does that mean for Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram etc. How do those get monitored and is it possible to monitor without compromising their uniqueness?
Is this something for the intelligence services or a new independent body?
Did you enjoy this issue?
Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani)

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