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Dear Facebook, you’re a media company now. Start acting like one.

Facebook has long denied that it’s a media company. This week’s controversy over Trending Topics shows that needs to change.
Image: AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Shortly before Facebook held its blockbuster public offering in 2012, one of its top execs attempted to refute a nagging question about the company.

No, it wasn’t about whether Facebook could make money off of smaller screen devices, or continue its streak of limitless user growth. The thorny issue was whether Facebook should be considered a media company.

“We actually define ourselves as a technology company,” Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook, said at a event that year after an advertising exec had called it a media business.“Media companies are known for the content that they create.”

Four years later, that dividing line between media and tech is fuzzier than ever, as Facebook and its peers increasingly package, host and yes even create some news and entertainment content. Yet Facebook appears to be hellbent on clinging to its tech identity.

This week, we saw more clearly than ever how Facebook’s refusal to be seen as a media company comes at its own peril.

Facebook endured a prolonged outcry over allegations that contractors hired to help curate Trending Topics had inappropriately downgraded certain conservative news topics.That particularly explosive charge has yet to be proven, butin its attempts to ease concerns about systemic editorial bias, Facebook unintentionally kickstarted new line of criticism.

The company released its editorial guidelines for the first time, which clearly show that human editors play a greater role in selecting the most important news stories at Facebook. That quickly led to charges that Facebook has been misleading the public about the role that humans, not just algorithms, play in picking the news.

Much of this could have been avoided if Facebook had been more upfront and transparent years ago about its reliance on human editors. Few would have been shocked to hear Facebook needed real people to help surface interesting articles.

The problem wasn’t the approach, or even the guidelines for the approach, which were actually far more detailed and thought out than what you’d find for curators at many news outlets. The problem was Facebook’s cageyness about its own approach, suggesting it had something to hide. Because it did.

Move fast and break news

Sources at Facebook have long been skittish and vague in conversations with me talking about the role of people in an editorial capacity.It was easier to focus on the whims of a cold, unfeeling algorithm.Saying morewould have meant leaning in to its alter-ego as a media company one with editors, editorial guidelines and, yes, occasionally editorial biases even if it’s simply a bias against certain types of garbage content.

Indeed, The Guardian reports that Facebook recognized the need for human editors in 2014 partly because “fluffy” viral stories about the Ice Bucket Challenge were gaining more exposure on the site than news about the riots in Ferguson.

Facebook wanted to prove that it, like Twitter, could be a destination for hard news. With enough transparency, the hiring of a public editor or other watchdog and the right guidelines, which it seems to have had in place, that would have been viewed by the media as a difficult but commendable goal.

Now Facebook’s Trending Topics project is tarnished with controversy. Worse still: it has re-ignited trust issues with Facebook’s other news efforts, whether it be the much more influential News Feed, or more recent projects like Instant Articles and Facebook Live.

Facebook wants to build what founder Mark Zuckerberg has called “the best personalized newspaper in the world.” But until now it has done so while reflexively shying away from being viewed as a media company and putting in place the additional safeguards one would expect from a media company.

“They are the world’s #1 source of news. Therefore there is a unique set of responsibilities incumbent upon them,” David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, the definitive history of the company’s early days, said in one interview this week.

“I think to some degree they are still a little immature as a company to even know how to deal with that,” he continued. “Being a news source and having editors is a relatively new thing.”

Be like Snapchat and… Yahoo?

It may be a new problem for Facebook to solve, but this week’s events are a reminder that it needs to move fast in finding a solution.

On Thursday night, after staying silent on the controversy for days, Zuckerberg noted in a Facebook post that he cares about fixing the issue because it is “core” to the company. He meant it in the sense that Facebook must stay an “open” platform for conversation, but it also touches on what is increasingly becoming Facebook’s new core: media.

Facebook is devoting tremendous resources to pushing live video on its platform, including paying some publishers for video content and courting celebrities. It is partnering with an ad agency on a branded morning show. It is hosting more and more news in the form of Instant Articles. And it considered buying rights to stream NFL games, a deal ultimately won by another tech company that has claimed not to be a media company, Twitter.

The road ahead for Facebook is clear. It will be home to more exclusive video content, some of which it pays partners for, others that it works with partners to produce. It wants to be a go-to destination for curated news selected and packaged by human editors to compete with the likes of Twitter. And it wants to do all that while pretending to be nothing more than a technology company.

Facebook would do well to go the route of Snapchat or Yahoo, both of which have embraced their dual roles as tech and media companies. Snapchat isn’t shy about exercising editorial discretion and picking favorites whether it be its selective Discover media partners or its curation of user content in stories. Yahoo may be lampooned for not being able to decide whether it’s tech or media, but at least it doesn’t hide the latter.

Some unsolicited advice, Facebook: Make your editorial staff known with a masthead. Publish similar editorial guidelines for each of your other media products. And bring on a public editor to help keep the staff honest and the public informed.

If you’re lucky, it may just limit the amount of bad news in the future.

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If you block every ad on Twitter, things start to get weird

If you use Twitter‘s website or official apps, you’ve probably seen its ads: sponsored tweets ostensibly targeted to your interests. Youcan block the advertisers you don’t like and eventually “train” Twitter to show you relevant stuff. But what if you block every advertiser you see? Things get really, really weird.

There’s a whole world of bizarre, niche ads hiding down there, and you just ripped the lid off.

Once you’ve blocked enough mainstream advertisers, Twitter gives up and shows you tweets that were meant to be shown to very specific groups of users.

Like dairy farmers. Gotta get that milk production up, bro.

Or this jargon-filled rabbit hole of “account-based marketing” and…Game of Thrones?

If you’ve ever been harmed by Korean ramen, this ad is for you:

And if you’re a trucker who needs to weigh things, Twitter ads have you covered, too:

Are you a funeral home manager? Twitter understands your unique needs and software requirements:

Twitter to you: Don’t forget to get you some Muscle Cakes!

You: Thanks, Twitter!

Sometimes, Twitter will randomly assume that you’re one of the super-rich. It’s very flattering.

Other times, it pegs you as a member of the frog-owning class.

Remember, promoted tweets were hailed during their 2010 launch as “a business model,” described as “how Twitter will finally make money,” and generally considered Not a Bad Idea. Six years later, this is what has become of them: something users block so vociferously that it’s now a rich and bulging vein of comedy. Twitter’s own ad algorithms have turned against it.

Twitter and the people assiduously blocking its ads haven’t even hit the bottom yet. The company’s Q1 earnings came in on Wednesday, andthey were disappointing, to say the least.

“Nothing Twitter is doing is working,” The Verge said.

Meanwhile, the hilarious war on promoted tweets continues apace:

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Food for thought: The man who makes cooking videos go viral – BBC News

Image copyright Jungle Creations
Image caption Jamie says he wasn’t cut out to be an employee in the corporate world

If someone had told Jamie Bolding three years ago that he’d be earning a lot of money from making viral videos, he’d probably have quit his “proper job” a lot earlier.

Jamie, who is behind a host of videos that appear on people’s Facebook newsfeeds, only lasted three weeks in an entry-level job at a drinks company, but he still thinks it was too long.

“I thought I could hack a real job, but I hated that I had no say in the decision making,” says the 25-year-old founder and owner of online media group Jungle Creations.

So retiring to his mother’s spare room in Surrey, in the south of England in early 2014, the business management graduate needed to find a different way to make money.

He decided to set up a website called Viral Thread that would collate videos and stories that had spread widely on the internet. The hope was that a great many people would visit the site, either directly or via Facebook, and he could make money by carrying advertising.

Image copyright Jungle Creations
Image caption The stories on Viral Thread’s website are not always that highbrow

Jamie admits that he was inspired by seeing other people already doing the same thing.

“There was a similar site called Viral Nova at the time – it was just one guy sitting at home making money out of sharing viral clips and I thought ‘this seems like a simple scheme to replicate’,” he says.

Tapping into the student market he also started to write original content about the typical things you’d experience at university, pushing it out primarily on Facebook pages he had built up.

“After a few months the articles started going viral and instead of earning 6p from advertising all of a sudden it was around 600 a day,” says Jamie.

“The first thing I did was say ‘look Mum’ – that was the moment I knew I could actually make it into a business.”

Image copyright Jungle Creations
Image caption The company has diversified into making food videos

By the summer of 2014 traffic to the Viral Thread website had grown so much that Jamie enlisted a friend, a journalism graduate, to help out with creating new content.

“It wasn’t a normal set up – he’d come to my house and we’d play [computer game] Fifa, cook some food, write some articles, and I would be building the Facebook page.”

But if it looked to an outsider that they weren’t doing much work, the Viral Thread’s Facebook page quickly grew in popularity, and by February 2015 had hit one million likes. One video they shared even gained 20 million likes over a weekend.

‘Camembert hedgehog bread’

Today Viral Thread has six million followers on Facebook, and is just one part of Jungle Creations.

Another big focus of the business is producing food videos – easy to follow recipe guides – via websites such as Twisted and Food Envy, which again make their money via advertising.

With the videos also uploaded to Facebook and You Tube, two of the most popular have been “camembert hedgehog bread” and “sushi cake”.

Image copyright Twisted: The Cookbook

Jamie says: “We knew we wanted to branch out from Viral Thread, and what we’d seen by spending all our time on the internet was that food was a hot topic – it was going viral,” says Jamie.

But their polished food videos weren’t always so well done.

“We started out with a Go Pro [camera] in my friend’s kitchen,” says Jamie, “We cringe when we look at them now. But it’s great to see how far we’ve come.”

Jungle Creations now has 12 websites or “channels” in total, including Bosh, which is dedicated to vegan food, and Nailed It, which gives fun art and design tips.

One of the reasons Jamie believes the videos work so well is their simplicity. The video of camembert hedgehog bread for example, runs for just under a minute, and shows an aerial view of how to make a whole camembert inside a loaf of bread. It has so far been viewed by 21 million people

“If anyone starts to get confused their interest will automatically be lost and they’ll flick past it. So we keep them quick, simple and entertaining,” explains Jamie.

‘Attention grabbing’

Despite having not had any outside investment, Jungle Creation’s revenues are now expanding strongly. Jamie says that its annual turnover in past financial year was 2.5m, nearly nine times the previous 12 months.

And in an amazing statistic provided by research group Tubular Labs, Jungle Creation’s online videos are now watched more than 2.5 billion times a month. This makes it the sixth most-viewed media company in the online sphere, behind the Walt Disney company in fifth place, and in front of US media giant Comcast in seventh.

Image copyright Jungle Creations
Image caption Jungle Creations recently teamed up with Oreo to make videos for the biscuit brand

This is impressive for a business that currently has just 36 employees at its loft style office in fashionable Shoreditch, in the east of London.

But having come straight out of university, and still at only 25, has Jamie’s age ever been a disadvantage?

“Never,” he insists, “We’re respected because of what we’ve built up and the content we’ve created, so we’re always taken seriously with anyone we’ve worked with.”

And that’s his next step, to increase the amount of videos Jungle Creations makes for other companies.

Having already worked with the likes of Oreo and Yo! Sushi, helping them to launch new menus and flavours with shareable videos, the results speak for themselves – with one of the videos they created with Oreo accumulating eight million likes across social media.

Jungle Creations charges firms a minimum of 20,000 per video, but guarantees that they are viewed by more than one million people. If they don’t reach that number, the client gets another video for free.

Image copyright Jungle Creations
Image caption Jamie has seen the business grow strongly, despite staff numbers still being well below 100

Jerry Daykin, global digital partner at media agency Carat, says: “While many traditional publishers have tried to adapt their existing content with re-edits or subtitles, Jungle Creations food channels have pioneered new approaches.

“The clips are instant, attention grabbing, and play heavily on delicious and iconic ingredients.

“There’s a scientific side to Jungle Creations’ success too, with the company applying a forensic approach to data to truly optimise and iterate the content it’s producing, which sets them apart from publishers built on a more traditional human editor led approach.”

Jamie says that a key reason for the company’s success is “because we’ve been impatient and excited to get to the next step”.

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The Litmus Test For Knowing When to Innovate – Business 2 Community

The Litmus Test For Knowing When to Innovate
Business 2 Community
Want to cut back your blogging to once a month? That's legit. But does it move you closer to your goal or is it a distraction? For our podcast, the answer was… maybe. The thing is, if we assume that all of us were interested in making more money in

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Poll: Should The Cowboys Bring Back Darius Jackson? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Poll: Should The Cowboys Bring Back Darius Jackson?
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The former fan-favorite running back was waived by the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. Should the Cowboys undo their December “mistake”? by RJ Ochoa@rjochoa Jun 1, 2017, 8:00pm CDT. tweet · share · pin · Rec. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

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What It’s Like To Direct ‘The Arnold’

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a colossal man with colossal talent. Hes an actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, politician and former professional bodybuilder. And he is my friend. In fact, I like him so much I bought him Pygmy goats. We laugh about that now. He has a great sense of humor and is very down to earth. I first met the Arnold back in 2015 when we started work on a movie called Aftermath. The movie is not your typical Schwarzenegger movie. Its inspired by real events. An intimate study of loss and tragedy. Its a movie about feeling not an action movie where hes playing a man wielding a sword or a cyborg. Theres no get to da choppa line. Theres just feeling and that was the anomaly. I thought the script was so unusual and thats what you search for as a director, something unique. And working on this movie was a fantastically unique opportunity.

Meeting Arnold for the first time was disarming. Hes a brilliant politician. Hes warm and gracious and instantly puts you at ease. He turned his back on politics in 2010 and has been looking to rebuild his acting career. I was happy to help him on that journey.

We started talking about his history. Hes proud of his past and so he should be. We talked about all the different roles hes played. He felt the film was very important to him because of the depth of feeling of the character and he told me he wanted to explore that part of his acting. He embraced it. In all his movies, hes indestructible. Whereas this movie brings him down to his knees. I said to him: Youve been Conan and all these different characters, but if you show up to set like that, you are going to crush the film. You be the actor and you have to let me be the director and we are going to have a wonderful time. He said: I like that and every day well have victory and we drink schnapps. And in that moment I gained his respect.

This man could be every indie directors darling.

When you get to 70 and youve done everything, there are only a few still willing to challenge themselves in the extreme way that he does. Its a little reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood Renaissance man. Hes an immensely sensitive and in-tune man. I wasnt prepared for what I got. Hes incredibly studied and works extremely hard as an actor. He takes great input in his wardrobe and even went to the extent of visiting all of the locations way before we started shooting. Its like an osmosis for him, getting a sense of where the character lives and how he likes to dress. I never heard the word no from him. It was never a case of I need to look better in this scene he didnt have that ego. He was invested in the character always the first one on set. If you needed him, he was there. Good actors are like musical instruments. You need them to be present so you can play them.

These types of movies rarely get made. Its very dense and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Theres just grief. The challenge with the script was how to make it come alive as a movie. Its based on events from Russia about a real life mid-air plane collision. A German TV movie was made about it, but writer Javier Gulln wanted to do an impressionistic version of those events. He wanted to enthuse it with his own poetic license.

Arnold was an exceptional choice for the role. And he embraced it. I think the way he has lived his life is if he wants to do something he does it. He has a vision of how he should live his life and he follows it. Its a lesson for us all.

Lionsgate Premiere

Once when we were shooting in a shitty diner in the middle of Columbus, Ohio in the freezing cold, I was doing take after take of this guy when I stopped and I thought this man could be every indie directors darling. Because he became the character. I just fell in love with that I fell in love with his selflessness. I would hope that he would do more of these types of films. I think the problem is that there is a disconnect between his fans and their expectation. When you look at Arnold you have to think how are we going to deconstruct this giant movie star whos made $8 billion worth of revenue and has been in our psyche for so long how do you undo that? Thats challenging.

Our first day of shooting was a shower scene. I was slightly trepidatious about how he was feeling. I asked him if he was ready and he replied: Totally! I was relieved. There is no vanity with him. It was collaborative. He believed in me and backed me all the way. And thats what you want as a director. Whether you are a writer, cinematographer, actor or director you need to have that confidence behind you to make those decisions. Its difficult to be questioned over why you are making a decision. He never did that. If your team is behind you, its the greatest feeling in the world.

Arnie liked to play chess in the trailer and during some down time he invited me to play. I felt like Lou Ferrigno in Pumping Iron as he tried to psyche me out. Trying to force me to make a bad move. He studies the game. I learned about his strategy of constantly practicing and consistently trying to push himself. This isnt a man who can idle away the hours. Its a man living his life to the fullest, not wasting a moments breath.

Hes wonderful to work with. He is unbelievably funny and one of the smartest men Ive ever met. His motivation would put anyone to shame. This is a guy who would eat lunch with the crew completely self-assured and comfortable with his status. He would talk to production assistants and caterers the same way he would talk to the director of photography or a producer. In his mind, there was no hierarchy. Everyone has value.

On Arnolds last day he was gracious enough to keep his jet waiting a few extra hours so we could get a scene finished. Darren Aronofsky flew in with magician David Blaine. This was one of the more bizarre days. We were shooting the heaviest scene of the movie and I looked around and David Blaine was doing magic tricks with the script supervisor, whod stopped taking her notes as she was being wowed and amazed by Davids sleight of hand. David Blaine in his monotone voice said: Im very sorry for coming to your set and doing magic tricks. I thought, dont apologize it made it a memorable day. Darren and Arnold were Snap-chatting whilst I was shooting Scoot McNairy in a very intense scene. The moment caused me to take pause. If you were to take a still shot of this moment, that picture would make no sense in any other universe except in the movie world. A confluence of events that was somehow begging for a punch-line.

He would talk to production assistants and caterers the same way he would talk to the director of photography or a producer.

I understand why Darren wanted to produce this movie, because its unflinching. Arnold doesnt need the money, he took it on because it was a challenge. I did it because I loved the script and Id seen Maggie, a small dramatic movie starring Arnie that got some notice. It made me think of the phrase there are no small parts and there are no small movies. Arnold had basically done everything every actor was supposed to do in terms of commercial success. But the challenge was to realize Arnold as a wonderful dramatic actor. Arnold is now taking a different course in his career and I wanted to be supportive of that.

I was coming off the movie Nightingale which had garnered critical success and a Golden Globe nomination for the actor David Oyelowo. I was excited to be working with Darren and whatever perceptions I had of Arnold were shattered when we sat down to talk about the role. Often the actors are typecast and not just by the roles they take, but by the way the general public wants them to be and to be seen.

Arnold and I had a friendly exchange before one scene. A scene where he has his shirt off. He said with a grin: Elliott, Im a 70-year-old man. He wanted to look his best. And I looked around the room and laughed to myself. At 70 years old he looked better than any 30-year-old on set. They all respected him. He was fantastic for the other actors. He was so willing to stand off set and do the off lines. He knew that the other actors needed him and he made himself available. Thats the most you can ask of someone of his stature.

I dont look at the film regularly but I am reminded of all the great times and the laughter we had, even though it was a very serious melodrama. This touched me in a human way and the feeling of working with Arnie as an actor was transcendental. Here I was with this giant movie star who was willing to work so hard to find the core of the character and delivered it with such ease. Arnie would often talk about the rep. He does things over and over again and that repetition would ultimately lead to perfection. I have to imagine he was saying the lines over and over again until they were perfect in his mind. He is so focused.

He came to America with nothing and picked an unusual subject. Like everything in his life, hes been a little bit of an underdog. He arrived and became Mr. Universe five times. When he couldnt make money from body building he would go out and work in construction. This led to him building his other businesses. When people laughed at him and said he couldnt work because of his funny voice and because his English wasnt that great at the beginning, he continued and became the highest paid movie star in the world. No one complained about his body. But he worked at it he had a vision and no one was going to get in the way of his vision. From construction he decided he wanted to be an actor and he took acting lessons, improved his English and got his break in Olympus in New York where his voice is dubbed. The irony being that later his voice became instantly recognizable. He became the highest grossing actor in the world at one point. Its impossible not to know about Arnold. He is as ubiquitous as he is relentless. The man I met wanted to act. He wanted to push himself with the same drive that got him over here from that small town in Austria. That man became my friend and we made a great movie together.

I dont know if there is ever going to be anyone like him again. No doubt Trump will hate the movie. Hes going to tweet about it for sure.

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The Best Way to Do Affiliate Marketing – Do These Two Methods and You Cannot Fail, Guaranteed – JOSIC – Digital Intelligence


JOSIC – Digital Intelligence

The Best Way to Do Affiliate Marketing – Do These Two Methods and You Cannot Fail, Guaranteed
JOSIC – Digital Intelligence
However, in my personal experience, the best way to do affiliate marketing and making consistent income in the process are by doing these two things. Build a subscribers list – It is a widely … So if you can build a blog,you can brand yourself, they

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Cowboys Fourth-Round Pick Ryan Switzer Adds Dangerous Weapon To Dallas – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys Fourth-Round Pick Ryan Switzer Adds Dangerous Weapon To Dallas
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Brandon Anderson of the Tar Heel Blog points out that Switzer possessed some of the surest hands of all of college football last season: A big part of what Ryan Switzer has been able to show off is his catching ability. During the OTAs, Switzer managed

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Bookslut was born in an era of internet freedom. Today’s web has killed it

The books community that my site joined was driven by enthusiasm not clicks, goodwill and not money and that culture has gone

I miss the internet. I know that, technically, the internet still exists. Its the Facebook-, Twitter-filtered series of algorithms designed to put cat videos, think pieces, and advertisements in front of you. But I get nostalgic for the days before money invaded the internet the early 2000s, in particular, when I created the literary blog and webzine Bookslut.com.

Back then, nothing you did mattered. And that gave you freedom. Back then, the online book culture was run mostly by enthusiasts and amateurs, people who were creating blogs and webzines simply for the pleasure of it, rather than to build a career or a brand. I know that nostalgia is a stupid emotion, but still I regret the day money found the internet. Once advertisers showed up, offering to pay us to do the thing we were doing just for fun, it was very hard to say no. Or understand exactly what the trade-offs would be.

The problem with doing what you love as a day job is that you have to make compromises in order to make money. Ask every twentysomething who dreamed of being able to pursue their love of writing as a career how fulfilling writing those Buzzfeed lists and clickbait headlines are. The thing that made you love writing is very rarely the thing that will actually get you paid.

When youre just an enthusiast, you can write about anything you want. You can publish long interviews with writers that only 20 people have ever heard of, knowing full well that maybe two dozen people will read all the way to the end. You can write serious, long reviews of books from small presses and faraway countries. Your only restriction is the limit of your curiosity.

But you probably wont get much attention. And in the world of online publishing, attention is everything. Your revenue stream is linked directly to how many clicks and page views you stack up, and that 8,000-word interview with a Nigerian author published in English for the first time just isnt going to draw the crowds. Which was the most disappointing revelation about the books world: even an intellectual is susceptible to clickbait. They might carry a New York Review of Books to read on the subway, but tweet a link to a slideshow of 37 regrettable Ernest Hemingway-inspired tattoos and they are all over it.

In the past few years, there has been the long overdue emergence of a conversation about the lack of coverage of books by women and writers of colour in major publications. The largest chunk of review space is still given to white men to write about the books by other white men, and finally there is some pushback about that.

Which brings us to the hard truth. In order to make enough money to run a real publication, you have to write about books everyone has already heard of. You have to indulge in clickbait. You have to narrow your conversation down to the one that is already happening elsewhere. This reinforces the white male-dominated paradigm, where one type of voice is elevated above all others. Its not just the publications that prefer these voices, its the readers themselves. I saw time and time again how little interest there was in radical voices, writers of colour, obscure women writers. I had given up on the site making money, and I would just shrug and continue to publish the voices I was interested in. I was lucky because I have a side business as a tarot reader, so the advertising dollars were not essential.

But for those who do rely on this income, they have to align their coverage to their audiences desires, and the audience, for the most part, want books with which they are already familiar.

This is not a lament for some golden age of literature. There never has been a way to mix commerce and art satisfyingly, and the attention model is simply the latest in a long line of attempts to make it work. Other configurations will come, and they will be dissatisfying in new ways. Nor is this an anti-technology Franzenesque rant, which is a shame, because nothing draws the hits like a few well-timed jokes in response to Jonathan Franzens latest the whole world is doing it wrong tirade. It is merely an observation, coming from a decade-and-a-halfs experience.

There is a way to strike a balance, to grit your teeth, do the superficial things that you know will get advertising revenue, and let that pay for the passion project. Had I not been suffused with a self-righteous, holier-than-thou stubbornness, perhaps that would have worked for Bookslut. But when, earlier this year, I made the decision to shutter the site, the reason, happily, was not revenue. We never really had any. It was simply that my attention had been pulled elsewhere.

The internet audience at some point will have to take responsibility for the state of the internet, including everything we bemoan from abusive comments to listicles to loud white male voices that drown everyone else out. You click on it, you own it. Until then, those of us who started our labours of love will find that love eventually runs out when not shored up with money and audience.

The final issue of Bookslut is online now.

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EU to crack down on online services such as WhatsApp over privacy

Europe will publish draft law to ensure that online messaging services have privacy rules like those for texts and calls

WhatsApp, Skype and other online messaging services face an EU crackdown aimed at safeguarding users privacy, in a move that highlights the gulf between Europe and the US in regulating the internet.

The European commission will publish a draft law on data privacy that aims to ensure instant message and internet-voice-call services face similar security and privacy rules to those governing SMS text messages, mobile calls and landline calls.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green MEP and prominent campaigner on data privacy, said: It was obvious that there needs to be an adjustment to the reality of today. We see telecoms providers being replaced and those companies who seek to replace them need to be treated in the same way, he said.

According to a draft policy paper seen by the Financial Times, the likes of WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, and Skype, owned by Microsoft, would have to abide by security and confidentiality provisions.

The policy paper, which is due in September, also outlines how these over-the-top services where voice calls and messages are delivered via the internet would have to comply with requests from security services, as well as regulating how they can make money from customer data.

Jan
Jan Philipp Albrecht says one of his priorities is tough new rules on encryption. Photograph: Bodo Marks/EPA

The early proposals are understood to be a long way from a final legal text, which is not expected until the end of the year. The draft law will then have to go through the EU legislative machine, agreement by the 28 EU member states, including the UK, and the European parliament.

Albrecht said one of his priorities was tough new rules on encryption. The Edward Snowden revelations had made it clear that every communication needs to be end-to-end encrypted, he said.

Snowden, a former US contractor, handed a trove of documents to the Guardian and other newspapers that revealed how US and British intelligence had cracked the online encryption used by millions of people to secure their personal data.

The latest regulatory drive has rung alarm bells in the tech industry, as the new privacy proposals come hot on the heels of a significant new data privacy law agreed in June.

TechUK, an industry group that represents 900 internet companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, urged the commission to think carefully about the evidence of harm and the powers it already has at its disposal.

Charlotte Holloway, the director of policy at TechUK, said new regulations could have unintended effects far beyond OTT services and could spill into other areas, such as connecting devices to the internet. Its not just OTT messaging apps that could be affected in such a move, but new and emerging areas such as the internet of things and smart city technologies, she said. Commission officials must be vigilant to the unintended consequences of proposals which could undermine Europes future economic potential.

The UK, a critic of EU tech industry regulation, will have a say, but its voice will count for less following the Brexit vote.

Louise Bennett, the chair of security at the British Chartered Institute for IT, accused the EU of coming up with too many conflicting regulations and pointed to inconsistent loopholes under the latest plans, such as an exemption for Skype-to-Skype calls.

Trying to replicate regulations that were done for a completely different media in a completely different age is well-nigh impossible, she said, adding that the plans showed the gulf in views on internet regulation between the US and Europe.

There will never be total reconciliation between American views, where freedom of speech matters most, and European views, where privacy matters most.

The regulatory issues highlight the stark division between the technology sectors of Europe and the US. While the largest US technology firms, led by Apple and Googles parent, Alphabet, provide OTT services as part of their business, the largest European technology firms, such as Telefnica and Vodafone, are undercut by them.

Messaging is also seen as a saturated market, with little chance of a European entrant disrupting any of the big players. Of the 10 biggest messaging services by number of users, just one, Skype, was founded in Europe, but it is now owned by Microsoft.

The success or failure of OTT messaging services also has a strong bearing on national security issues worldwide. SMS messaging is almost entirely unencrypted and easily readable by law enforcement, but other messaging services vary in terms of their vulnerability to government agencies. WhatsApp and iMessage, for instance, enable end-to-end encryption by default on all messages, ensuring that even Facebook and Apple cannot access their content.

By contrast, Facebook Messenger only encrypts messages end-to-end if the user actively opts in to a private chat mode. As such, law enforcement bodies with an appropriate court order can easily access most messages sent through the service.

A European commission spokesperson said it was looking into the extent that people can consider OTT services to be functional substitutes for services provided by traditional telecoms operators and whether EU rules need to be adapted to better protect consumers.

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