Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Combating fake news in social media means rethinking algorithms.

Yesterday Facebook announced that they will no longer accept ads from fake news sources.  (O’Malley, 2017)

Seems like the least that they can do since as the New York Times pointed out last week, we are entrusting increasingly large portions of our private and public life to advertising/data-mining companies. (Herrman, 2017)

But from what I have observed, social media is more about content than ads, and the algorithms that social media companies are using favor the popular.  

I’m trending on Instagram this week.  I’d like to think it’s because people appreciate my photos.  But why now?  I’ve been posting a pic a day for the past 2 ½ years, and have a small but loyal following.  Until this week.  This week my followers increased by 30% in three days.  And the numbers are still going up. 

The same thing happened with this blog last winter, although in that case, my page views increased tenfold over a period of about three months.  

So if fake news still appears to be popular, based on likes from fake followers, then it will trend.  Therefore companies need to deal with the issue of fake followers and adapt their algorithms if they really intend to combat fake news.  It will be interesting to see if they do.

O’Malley, G. (2017, August 29) Facebook Refuses To Carry Ads From Fake News Sources.  Retrieved August 30, 2017, from
Herrman, J. (2017, August 21) How Hate Groups Forced Online Platforms to Reveal Their True Nature. Retrieved August 30, 2017, from

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Behold the Power of the Boycott.

Last week was a big week. After  3 out of the 5 honorees for the Kennedy Center Honors announced that they would not be attending , and the other 2 indicated they were likely to follow their lead, President Trump announced that he would not attend.  Wow. 

So it seems to be a good time to look again at the power of @grabyourwallet and @slpng_ giants.

1. As of the beginning of June, Sharon Coulter founder of grabyourwallet, reports that 22 companies on the list have dropped Trump products, and the grabyourwallet website has 2 million unique visitors each month. (Kramer, 2017)

2. Breitbart, the favorite target of sleeping giants, has lost 90% of its advertisers in two months, and visitors have declined by 53% since November.  Click-through rates on the site are a dismal 15%.  (vs. 32% for the New York Times)   (Bhattarai, 2017)

3. The exodus from the Manufacturing Council started with Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier and quickly escalated, so by the next morning 6 CEOs had resigned.  Then Sleeping Giants took up the cause, and tweeted the names and contact information for the remaining CEOs. By the next morning the group announced they were disbanding.  And the Strategy & Policy Forum followed suit.  The Infastructure Council was abandoned before it was even started. (Paletta & McGregor, 2017)

The Council for the Arts, which was comprised of Obama appointees, quit the next day too.  (Hipes, 2017)

4. Then Sleeping Giants began tweeting the names of charities who intended to hold their fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago, and singling out their directors, with names and photos. It's a moving target at the moment, but as of yesterday, 16 charities had canceled.  Since Mar-a-Lago makes $100K - $275K per event that has to hurt.  (Dangremond, 2017)

5. On Monday a New Jersey chapter of the United Way canceled its scheduled event at Trump's New Jersey golf club.  One imagines they will not be the last to do so. (Shelbourne, 2017)

6. Meanwhile, Trumps' attacks on CNN have really done wonders for the network.  Their ratings in second quarter 2017 were their best since 2003.  (Kruzel, 2017)

7. And the "failing New York Times," clearly isn't, as they gained 93,000 subscribers in 2Q, and revenues were up 9% versus year ago. (Ember, 2017)

Money talks. And boycotts work.  Expect to see more.

Kramer, M. (2017, June 4) Grab your wallet, boycott Trump and participate in “A sprawling landscape of resistance”  Retrieved August 19, 2017, from

Bhattarai, A. (2017, June 8)  Breitbart lost 90 percent of its advertisers in two months: Who's still there?  retrieved August 19, 2017, from

Paletta, D. & McGregor, J. (2017, August 16)  Trump’s business advisory councils disband as CEOs abandon president over Charlottesville views.  Retrieved August 19, 2017, from

Hipes, P. (2017, August 18) Another Presidential Council, This One Focused On The Arts, Quits On Donald Trump.  Retrieved August 19, 2017, from
Dangremond, S. (2017, August 18)  Eight Charities Have Canceled Their Mar-a-Lago Galas This Week.  Retrieved August 19, 2017, from
Shelbourne, M. (2017, August 22) New Jersey charity pulls out of event at Trump golf club. Retrieved August 22, 2017, from
Kruzel, J. (2017, July 3)  Trump’s Pants on Fire claim that CNN ratings are ‘way down’. retrieved August 19, 2017, from

Ember, S. (2017, July 27)  New York Times Reports Strong Quarter on Digital Revenue Growth.  Retrieved August 19, from

Friday, August 18, 2017

Home Depot sent me the wrong item.

This is what I ordered...

This is what I got...  
Since the order numbers matched, someone presumably didn't notice that the photo on the box was different from the actual item.  Since the latter was clearly visible it shouldn't have been a problem for them. 

But now it's a problem for me.  I had to waste an hour of my valuable time returning the item.  As far as I am concerned Home Depot owes me $100.

When they asked me to review my purchase I posted the same photos and story that I posted here.  I guess I'm not surprised that they emailed me the next day to tell me that my comment had been rejected. 

But it does make me wonder if they reject all negative comments.  And if others online do the same thing.  It's an important issue since research shows that consumers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with "excellent" reviews; and 86% will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. (Rudolph, 2015)

I've noticed that Yelp posts some negative reviews under a sub-heading labeled "not recommended."  At least they aren't suppressing them.  But then again they aren't trying to sell me anything. 

Buyer beware.

Rudolph, S. (2015, July 25)  The Impact of Online Reviews on Customers' Buying Decisions.  Retrieved August 17, 2017, from