Content Aware media news: September 07, 2023

Published: 08 September 2023

In Content Aware this week: Facebook vs the real world, AI bosses are not gods, and the upcoming Google megatrial.

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Catch up on Future of Media Tech Conference here
Read more of the London media tech event from yesterday, including a brilliant talk by Mail+ Product Director Simon Regan-Edwards into how their use of technology and new processes and practices let them massively grow paid subscriptions for news and content, and the list of who won what at the Press Gazette Future of Media Awards.

Facebook abandons news
Meta kills off Facebook's news tab in various territories wherever it is a bit miffed about having to play ball with publishers, and also in the UK it has ceased funding the Community News project that saw the tech behemoth contributing (what is to them chump change) to publishers in order to pay reporters. What happened to Facebook's famed sense of fair play and community spirit? Let's hope no news or event happens near you that might effect you eh.

News on non-news sites
A new study with 7,266 participants in three countries has concluded that the majority of people get their political news from non-news sites. "Out of every 10 visits to specifically political content, 3.4 come from news and 6.6 from non-news sites."

Corbidge comments on... Facebook's allergy to news
As the social giant decides news isn't important to people, our man of letters, posts, and tweets reflects on the roller-coaster ride publishers have faced trying to hitch their wagon to the skittish Facebook horse.

The boilerplate experiment
A wonderfully simple test using boilerplate text from popular websites reveals how cravenly ChatGPT reproduces original content - which could be yours. As some NYT boilerplate was used in the experiment, we can now all see the wisdom of that publisher's decision to block AI training crawlers from its sites.

For your enjoyment: the Google trial
Next week is due to see the start of the big Google vs The US Justice Department trial, the "first monopoly trial of the modern internet era" as it has been called. Expect some interesting insights and stats on the true power of Google and how it goes about things. Judge Amit P. Mehta is in the hotseat for an expected 10 weeks. Depending on the outcome of course, it could have profound effects on the way the web and our digital lives do or do not revolve around the 'search company' in the future.

Bot blocking bonanza?
New research shows the number of sites blocking AI crawlers is on the rise, as you might expect. What is a bit of a surprise is the relative slowness to react by some major publishers.

Let's get the humans in
USA Today went for a bold experiment with generative AI sports content. Much of it has now been edited to improve accuracy and trim out all the AI pseudo-nonsense.

For the want of a comma, $10m was lost
Oxford comma fans rejoice! Punctuation matters, as a Maine dairy found out to their considerable cost. What does your style book say?

Breaching the platform world
Studying algorithms to reach conclusions about social media behaviour isn't the best approach to understanding them, according to this interesting read. Instead "breaching experiments", where people are given social media feeds not of their making and asked about them, could offer fertile ground for understanding.

OpenAI's open ambition
Rare inside access and insight to the people behind the soaraway success of ChatGPT and the boom in generational AI clogging the news less than a year after its debut. Lest we forget - since collectively we seem to have a nasty habit of expecting tech innovators to have greater wisdom on the world and its inhabitants and concerns than anyone else and expect them to act as such - aside from their obvious genius, they have big bills to pay and gigantic growth targets to achieve. That often doesn't square too well with "thinking of the greater good".

Laying out the publishers' position
The News Media Alliance has produced a clear and concise set of principles on AI use for publishers. From Intellectual Property to Fairness, it's a good place to start a deep dive into the subject - especially if you are undecided about allowing AI services to look at your content.

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