The New Yorker recently posted an article titled Why The UK Condemned Facebook For Fueling Fake News, which details the British House of Commons committee investigation into Facebook’s violation of user privacy and its circulation of harmful content. While specifically focused on the practices of Facebook, this report attempts to understand the overall dangers of propaganda dissemination on social media platforms.
The U.K. investigation is based on documents possessed by Ted Kramer, the executive of Six4Three, a company that created an app that uses Facebook data to find pictures of women in bikinis. Kramer is currently suing Facebook in the United States for breach of contract; in 2015, Facebook blocked Six4Three’s access to networks of Facebook friends, which led to the collapse of their app. Facebook has claimed that it did so in order to protect the privacy of its users. However, the company has continued to transfer user data to white-listed companies, such as Netflix, Lyft, and Airbnb, which confirms Facebook’s “allegiance to profit over people.”
This notion is further substantiated by the fact that Facebook sold raw data concerning eighty-seven million profiles to Cambridge Analytica, which then used this data to shape the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Facebook was also the social media platform through which targeted messages were relayed to the electorate regarding voting and candidates. Facebook was also used to influence the Brexit vote.
Towards the end of her article, Sue Halpern discusses various legislative efforts to regulate big tech companies, such as Facebook, despite the Internet’s boundless and global nature. While it will be difficult, governments around the world must begin to propose and pass legislation that protects the interests and information of online users. It is crucial that as the use of social media continues to grow that the regulations surrounding such platforms will increase as well. In regards to the misconduct with Facebook, hopefully this is the start of the necessary protections and oversight on social media platforms.
For my final project, I am interested in focusing on e-commerce retail, which is the top-selling form of e-commerce and an online service I utilize often. I would specifically like to study the various methods and technologies that online retail companies are using to make e-commerce fashion retail more effective and effortless for the consumer. I would also like to look at the influence that online retail has had on storefront retail.
One advancement I am interested in exploring is the use of augmented reality in e-commerce retail. For example, the Canadian startup called “triMirror” has developed software that allows users to create accurately dimensioned avatars that can try on real clothes sold by companies. This would allow users the opportunity to have a virtual fitting to see how a garment fits and moves prior to buying it. Various stores have implemented similar techniques that allow customers to ‘try on’ garments without actually being in the store or interacting with the physical products. Similarly, ebay Australia has developed the first virtual reality department store where users can browse the ‘store’ in the comfort of their own home. Another example is Rent the Runway, a website and app that allows its users to browse through thousands of options and select clothing, accessories, and shoes to rent for a certain period of time. This platform includes a social media aspect as users can post photos of themselves in the garments and write detailed reviews about the product’s fit. This allows potential renters to see what the product looks like in real life without physically interacting with it. These developments in retail technology have allowed companies to create a seamless shopping experience for their users and have revolutionized shopping around the world.
I have decided to follow the New Yorker, a reputable magazine that provides complex analysis of current events, as my primary news source for this semester. In picking a news platform, I wanted to branch out and engage with a new and unexplored source. I have long been interested in the New Yorker as my parents are subscribers and often leave various editions around the house, but I have never sat down and read them. I look forward to broadening my perspective in regards to news coverage and learning from a new platform!
For this week, I selected an article titled “The Layoffs at Buzzfeed and the Case of the Teen-Age Quiz-maker” by Charles Bethea. This article focuses on the downsizing of Buzzfeed’s quiz department in response to the massive success of the company’s community of amateur quiz-makers who are not formal employees. These quizzes, which are Buzzfeed’s unique form of engaging its audiences, are interactive in nature as site visitors can enjoy this feature while simultaneously getting their fill of daily news. One of Buzzfeed’s most successful amateur quiz-makers is Rachel McMahon, a sophomore at Grand Valley State University and Buzzfeed community member, who creates and publishes quizzes in her spare time. The 5th highest traffic generator in the world last year, McMahon exemplifies the changes occurring in contemporary news delivery. In our world of instant gratification, audiences need to be engaged even when doing something as simple as reading the news. Thus, the success of these quizzes is unsurprising as they incorporate a participatory aspect that garners views and online attention.
I am very excited by the prospect of creating a blog and exploring a relatively unknown medium of expression. Throughout this semester, I hope to become even more adept in WordPress as well as personalize my website to the point where I feel that it represents me. To do so, I would like to develop a logo to place at the top of my homepage that fits across the page like a banner. Although I have been playing around with a few designs, I have struggled to create something that fits this vision. In addition, I would like to play with color; I prefer more muted colors, such as light blue and grey, but would like to incorporate other colors to make my website pop. Thus far, I have opted to utilize one of the simpler themes, which aligns with my preferences for minimalist and clean aesthetics. While my current design is not inspired by any other websites, I am open to exploring different styles and layouts. I can’t wait to see what my blog transforms into by the end of the semester!