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Matt's Monday digital digest - Issue #86

Good morning, a quick note to say this is the last digest for three weeks as I'll be spending the nex
Matt's Monday digital digest - Issue #86
By Matt Taylor • Issue #86 • View online
Good morning, a quick note to say this is the last digest for three weeks as I’ll be spending the next two weeks in Malaysia and the week after is packed with a trip to Washington (literally 12 hours time difference) so my bodyclock might be a bit ruined.
Still, for now, let’s get on with your talking points for Monday morning. If you’ve been forwarded this newsletter you can sign up to future issues at

The progress of AI-generated content
Innovation either starts with toys for children, or porn for the darker corners of the internet. In evolution of AI in the latter direction this week we have /r/deepfakes (Mostly NSFW, try this SFW one), where an ‘enterprising’ Reddit user has compiled various algorithms into a friendly user interface so anyone can make fake porn of celebrities, or anyone in fact who they have sufficient footage of. In a world where everyone’s social lives are dictated by the amount of media they post of themselves online this makes pretty much anyone a potential victim, and as times goes on it will inevitably become harder to determine what is real and what is fake.
Over the past 24 months we’ve seen some incredible advancement in what it is possible to simulate using machine learning: people’s voices, facial playback of an actor over a video, completely different weather scenes to the original. It’s only a matter of time until a major news organisation is fooled into basing a story on completely falsified information. And in the same vein, it’s only a matter of time before everyone has plausible deniability for any recorded image of them (at least as they are recorded today).
BuzzFeed's about-turn
BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti has given an interview to Mathew Ingram on CJR. In it he discusses BuzzFeed’s missed targets; his mistake in expanding bullishly into the UK (“a tough business climate”); advertising on site (“zero impact on engagement”); and a lot on Facebook.
Most interestingly, Peretti is calling for Facebook to take control of its news feed, and incentivise the kind of content it wants to see with cash: as they have before with types of content they want to promote (cough live video cough).
The reason cable operators paid for content was they wanted media companies to invest in better content so more people would sign up for cable.
Twitter's bots fuelled by celebrity money
The New York Times have one of the best digital investigations of the last year here in The Follower Factory, a highly visual piece of data journalism that looks at the industry surrounding the fake accounts that social media agencies like Devumi – who list a Manhattan address but are based above a Mexican restaurant in Florida – use to inflate follower and engagement counts with clients. In it they quote a study from early last year that suggests up to 48 million (15%) of Twitter’s active user count could be these automated followbots, Facebook have admitted at least 60 million of their ‘users’ are fraudulent bots.
The New York Times piece looks at the many hundred celebrity and high-profile users who have potentially participated in the fake-follow economy. It shows how the newspaper detected through data analysis the thousands of fake accounts created in waves to follow customers.
Facebook's gaming push
In the last newsletter I pointed to Facebook’s purchase of the ESL Pro League and ESL One tournaments. Last week we saw the first Facebook exclusive event: ESL One Genting, a DOTA2 ‘minor’ tournament (in the series of major and minor events leading up to the world championships). Facebook peaked at 68,998 viewers. The same tournament last year had 4x that on Twitch. 
This was complicated by some esports personalities creating their own stream from the client feed, something the game publisher had to intervene with to support after ESL complained.
Facebook are launching revenue sharing on their live videos, to try and draw content creators to their platform.
This is as Twitch asserted their dominance this weekend with ELEAGUE, a Turner esports event that is signed to Twitch, which peaked on Sunday night at 1,335,000+ concurrent viewers.
As an aside, this western esports is nothing compared to China: Douyu, PandaTV, Huya and Quanmin, the of Asia, topped out at 104 million concurrent viewers on the 28th of October last year for the League of Legends World Championship.
And everything else...
CNN Is Closing Down Beme
Twitter loses COO Anthony Noto
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Matt Taylor

This is the week that was in 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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