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Matt's Monday digital digest - Issue #81

Hey all, welcome back from a week off! Hoping you all have a great Monday, please do forward this new
Matt's Monday digital digest - Issue #81
By Matt Taylor • Issue #81 • View online
Hey all, welcome back from a week off!
Hoping you all have a great Monday, please do forward this newsletter to others that might be interested. Or they can sign up (and see the latest issue) at

A good story this week about how BuzzFeed tech reporter Katie Notopoulos got mass-flagged by the far-right, got suspended from Twitter, and spent the next ten-days going through the normal-person process to get unblocked. She points out how Twitter’s changing climate of politics and policy, applied opaquely without consistency, are making it difficult to understand where the platform sits for users on certain items.
For the clearest example we can look to Donald Trump, whose tweets made headlines last week, and Jack’s response: paradoxically suggesting the tweets were not permitted, but there was no specific policy keeping them online, or at least nothing to point to.
Tech journalist Josh Topolsky replied to Jack in his tweet to state his opinion that Trump’s tweets remain because they give Twitter relevance, he has a free pass. Jack disagreed. Topolsky’s follow up essay is an excellent read this week on how the internet has changed dramatically over its existence to a centralised, gamified set of platforms on which we are all being manipulated.
The death of the internet
BuzzFeed are laying off 6% of their workforce after missing their 2017 targets, and Greg Coleman, president of the company since 2014, is leaving. CEO Jonah Peretti said in a memo to the business that 2017 had been a “transformational year” with dramatic growth, just I guess not enough. More interesting items from the memo include Tasty and other sub-brands becoming their own unit of the business, with a fashion & beauty franchise coming Q1 2018, and BuzzFeed commerce becoming another business unit, taking over their product labs which has “exceeded expectations”. Redundancies will be made across many sales & advertising roles globally, and in the UK in Buzz and News editorial team.
Comscore and SimilarWeb have also had their figures looked at by Recode on this news to show that BuzzFeed has not seen the same traction of other traditional publishers to its own platform after the US election. Their traffic is relatively flat, though BuzzFeed dispute the relevance of this, being a multi-platform publisher.
The Uber and Waymo lawsuit continues at pace, with this brilliant quote from the judge last week:
I have never seen a case where there were so many bad things done like Uber has done in this case
The jury trial is now scheduled for February next year, after a 37-page letter was revealed to the court from a ‘former’ employee of Uber detailing numerous alleged questionable behaviors at the company. Uber were allegedly investigating these claimed, which they deny, and had done so by rehiring the employee as an investigator, with a $2 million upfront payment, $1 million over the next 12 months, and $1.5 million in stock, also over 12 months.
That’s of course not counting the $3 million they paid his lawyer.
Cue the judge:
To someone like me, an ordinary mortal, and to ordinary mortals out there in the audience — people don’t pay that kind of money for B.S.
It’s the first time that Facebook have looked at pre-rolls and they will be in the video content of Watch, the long-form curated video service available to Facebook users in the USA. 
Facebook to Test Pre-Roll Video Ads Ahead of Watch Shows | Digital - AdAge
Snapchat announced their unveiling of the new app design promised after their disappointing last quarter, and it is itself quite disappointing. In the post on Axios below, CEO Evan Spiegel talks about how Snap are trying to “separate social from the media”, where in reality this results in redefining your feed into two segments: on the left are your friends, and on the right are celebrities, local stories and media (discovery).
It’s no less confusing to a new user, who the company is having more difficulty attracting, making a feed with few user stories end abruptly where previously it pushed to third parties. And for media companies it potentially diminishes their impact further, which will hurt Snap’s advertising revenue also. It’s a troubling lack of real shift in the company’s core experience, which is now almost entirely replicated in Instagram with the tested addition of hashtag/location following.
Even YouTube are adding ‘stories’ to their app, they’re called Reels.
Snapchat Seems Confused About Its Mission - Bloomberg Gadfly
Amazon Web Services’ yearly event was last week. Reinvent in Las Vegas is the company’s showcase of their latest technologies for the new year. There have been a ton of announcements, many of which you might have missed even if you were watching, but some of the most interesting bonuses are Rekognition for video (real time contextual video analysis), Amazon Transcribe (which will give you accurate transcriptions including inferred punctuation and word-by-word timestamps), serverless databases in Aurora, a new graph database, and Alexa being pushed into the business market starting with conference calling. 
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Matt Taylor

Digital media and its intersect with technology, with all the interesting stories you might not have found elsewhere, or should definitely read again if you did.

From the sunny silicon of the West Coast to the cultural hubs of East Asia, it's all the news in a digestible format ready for your Monday morning commute.

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