Monday, March 18, 2019

A Question of Ethics — March 18, 2019

I'm not pulling any punches with the lack of ethics in some tech companies; how CMOs are using A.I.; fixing the robocall problem; the cost of autonomous vehicles is a concern; social video ads need your attention; a social media influencer study worth noting; some conditions in Amazon warehouses are brutal; Facebook's rough week; the hottest chat app for teens is...; the significant podcast statistic hiding in plain sight; the Spotify-Apple battle royale; phone numbers aren't good authentication data points; a new take on the data/oil analogy; your spouse doesn't know you as well as someone else; how museums are rethinking the way they collect art; and more in the A Question of Ethics edition of The Full Monty for the week of March 18, 2019.

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Top Story
Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous
Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy
Retail Apocalypse
Privacy / Security / Regulatory
Measurement / Analytics / Data
Mental Nourishment


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Top Story

"All the world's a stage"
— William Shakespeare (As You Like It)

The world saw the impact of a terrorist unleashed in two mosques in New Zealand late last week. Rather than try to describe the situation in my own words, I'll borrow from The New York Times:
"On Friday, a gunman strapped on a helmet camera, loaded his car with weapons, drove to a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and began shooting at anyone who came into his line of vision. The act of mass terror was broadcast live for the world to watch on social media."

The original video was removed within the first hour, but by then, the damage was already done. Around the world, people copied and uploaded the horrific video to their own accounts and to additional platforms. And the tech companies had difficulty in taking them all down.

The A.I. that they've developed was too slow in flagging and shutting down violent videos. Some will say, "That's just how A.I. works. It's easier to match to known and expected things." Maybe so. But share a nipple on Instagram or a copyrighted song on YouTube and it'll get yanked immediately. Not to mention that Facebook says it can now detect revenge porn automatically.

The sad reality is this:

Tech companies don't care enough about curbing hate speech and violence. If they did, they'd have made this a priority.

“The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.” 
– Albert Schweitzer

Tech companies have engineered a reality in which conspiracy theories and hate are allowed to fester and then go viral, both online and in real life. The power they have unleashed is beyond their comprehension (or at least their expectation). But hate and anger is what fuels the social web. And that drives clicks.

We've long believed that with great power comes great responsibility. And yet Mark Zuckerberg — who has operated Facebook by apology — wants to control the encrypted conversations of nearly a third of the world's population.

At some point, we need to hold such companies to account — not from a regulatory perspective, but from an ethical and human angle. Where is their moral compass?

At this point, their True North seems to be profitability and user growth. They worship at the altar of the golden calf. Sadly, the only way they may pay attention is from an exodus of users and advertisers.

Speaking of exodus, that's the book in the Torah and Old Testament that includes a story about the people worshiping a golden calf while waiting for Moses to return with the Ten Commandments.

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About this week's image: Garrit de Wet painted The Adoration of the Golden Calf in the first half of the 17th century to memorialize the scene described in Exodus in the Torah and the Old Testament, in which Aaron and the Israelites constructed a golden calf to worship while Moses went to Mount Sinai, from which he eventually descended with the Ten Commandments. 

Artificial Intelligence / Autonomous

The latest in A.I., machine learning, and bots; mobility and autonomous everything.
Aʀᴛɪꜰɪᴄɪᴀʟ Iɴᴛᴇʟʟɪɢᴇɴᴄᴇ / Mᴀᴄʜɪɴᴇ Lᴇᴀʀɴɪɴɢ

Aᴜᴛᴏɴᴏᴍᴏᴜs / Mᴏʙɪʟɪᴛʏ

Communications / Marketing / Business Strategy

Industry developments and trends, including advertising & marketing, journalism, customer experience, content, and influencer relations.

Sᴛʀᴀᴛᴇɢʏ / Mᴀʀᴋᴇᴛɪɴɢ / Cᴏɴᴛᴇɴᴛ
Jᴏᴜʀɴᴀʟɪsᴍ / Cᴏᴍᴍᴜɴɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs / Rᴇᴘᴜᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ
  • The psychology behind brand storytelling should be apparent by now. Creating empathy and using social proof are helpful in that regard. (AdWeek) But all too often, brands forget this: don't always make it about you.
  • And if you're going for empathy, the link between brand and leadership means connecting with your heart. How do you do that? (Foster Thinking)
  • If you work in influencer relations, you'll want to download this social media influencer study from Trust Insights that looks at engagement by platform, and by audience size. (Trust Insights) Bottom line: larger audience means less engagement.
  • Are influencers ignoring your emails? There's something you can do about it. (Agility PR) I receive a lot of pitches; one bit of advice is this: please take the time to read and understand the people whom you're pitching. Don't cut and paste.

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Retail Apocalypse

Humans are a transactional species, and the practice — if not the very notion of what retail is  is undergoing a historical metamorphosis. 

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News to know about relevant social media and technology platforms that may affect your business.

Fᴀᴄᴇʙᴏᴏᴋ / Iɴsᴛᴀɢʀᴀᴍ / WʜᴀᴛsAᴘᴘ


The latest in the world of streaming video, audio, and the advertising, pricing and bundling models related to them.

  • An AT&T executive recently said that Netflix has a brand problem. Does it? (Variety) Does it even matter? Side note: no one is saying "HBO and chill."
  • Netflix subscribers watch an average of two hours per day across multiple devices. (Variety)

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Privacy / Security / Regulatory

Business disruptions in the legal, regulatory, and computer security fields, from hacking to the on-demand economy and more.

Pʀɪᴠᴀᴄʏ / Sᴇᴄᴜʀɪᴛʏ / Hᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ
Rᴇɢᴜʟᴀᴛᴏʀʏ / Oɴ-Dᴇᴍᴀɴᴅ Eᴄᴏɴᴏᴍʏ


Measurement / Analytics / Data

The future is not in plastics, but in data. Those who know how to measure and analyze it will rule the world.


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    Mental Nourishment

    Other links to help you reflect, improve, or simply learn something new.
    • Ramin Djawadi may not be a household name, but you've most likely heard his music. He's the composer for Game of Thrones and this is how his music helped make the show a hit. (The Atlantic) Side note: he's also behind Westworld.
    • The 50 best spy movies of all time. (Vulture) I strongly agree with their #1 pick.
    • Comedian isn’t the first word you associate with Machiavelli. Most familiar today as the godfather of Realpolitik and as the eponym for all things cunning and devious, the Renaissance thinker Niccolò Machiavelli also had a lighter side. (The Public Domain Review)
    • With storage spaces filled with works that may never be shown, some museums are rethinking the way they collect art, and at least one is ranking what it owns. (The New York Times) No, the Marie Kondo effect hasn't reached museums, but they all have limited space, and bequests and gifts make it difficult to manage. They have to make some hard decisions.
    • How to avoid sources of stupidity and make smarter decisions. (Farnam Street) 
    “I regard it as a criminal waste of time to go through the slow and painful ordeal of ascertaining things for one’s self if these same things have already been ascertained and made available by others.” 
    —Thomas Edison

    Top image creditThe Adoration of the Golden Calf by Gerrit de Wet, first half of the 17th century (Wikimedia Commons - public domain)


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