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Digital Digest – 06 August

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In this week’s Digital Digest, we look at the use of AI to help fight COVID-19 and JPI Media’s local TV tie-up.

We then take a look at big tech, as Twitter teams up with Reuters and Associated Press to fight fake news and Facebook comes under fire for banning academics researching transparency and misinformation.

Closer To Home

Hundreds of AI tools have been built to catch Covid-19. None of them helped.

The pandemic offered an opportunity for machine-learning algorithms to help doctors understand what they were seeking and make decisions, however it never happened – but not for lack of effort says MIT Technology review.

Two major studies assessed hundreds of predictive tools to diagnose patients and assess how sick those with the virus might get. What it found was that none of these tools were fit for clinical use, with some being labelled as “potentially harmful”. MIT says that unrealistic expectations result in AI tools being used prematurely.

The research has highlighted that the way in which AI tools are developed needs to change, with simple fixes being identified and easily applied.

JPI Media to expand online into eight major UK markets with Local TV partnership

Under its new owner, JPI Media has announced plans to become a “truly national network of local news brands” by expanding into seven major UK cities and Wales. The expansion includes eight new websites, including the National World website which aims to rival The Independent.

JPI has said that the new websites, combined with their newspaper brands, will grant them access to 80% of the UK market. This comes in the wake of National World’s announcement it wants to double its online audience by the end of 2022.

Big Tech

Twitter teams with wire services to elevate accurate news stories and de-emphasize misinformation and disinformation

Twitter’s deal with the Associated Press and Reuters is aimed at expanding its existing work to explain why certain topics trend, correct and expose misinformation, and highlight information from trusted sources.

Instead of waiting for a topic to go viral, Twitter will be able to “contextualise developing discourse at pace with or in anticipation of the public conversation”. The social media giant has said that the news agencies will be able to provide accurate information, in real time, which is essential for disputing facts and providing context on topics gaining widespread traction.

This move is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the US Presidential elections and pandemic where social media sites were rife with misinformation and ‘fake news’ adding to the confusion and scaremongering across the world.

Facebook bans academics who researched ad transparency and misinformation on Facebook

Facebook has banned a group of academics, who were part of NYU Ad Observatory, for violating their terms of service by scraping user data to research ad transparency and the spread of misinformation. The conglomerate has faced backlash for silencing those who have exposed problems on the platform, with Laura Edelson, an NYU researcher involved, saying the company “wants to end independent scrutiny of its platform”.

The data collected was made publicly available to those who reveal trends and problems, removing any personally-identifying information beforehand. Some disclosures have resulted in major discoveries including how far-right misinformation is more engaging than centre/left sources, and Facebook’s failure to disclose who pays for political ads.

Also In The News

  1. Elon Musk goes head to head with BT in a fight to rid rural Britain of sluggish broadband. See here

  2. Shares in two of China’s biggest online gaming firms -Tencent and NetEase – fell more than 10% after a state media outlet called them “electronic drugs”. See here.

  3. Bill Bailey channels Spinal Tap in Currys PC World ad as he prepares to host a new online show. See here.

  4. Facebook failed to enforce its own rules to curb an oil and gas industry misinformation campaign, according to thinktank InfluenceMap. See here.

  5. Major social media platforms fail to take down more than 80% of anti-Semitic posts on their platforms, a new report from the CCDH claims. See here.

Worth A Read

  1. Marketing Week: What engagement means for brands like Just Eat

  2. The Telegraph: Meet the cyber mercenaries – and the activists trying to stop them

  3. The Drum: Global study reveals post-pandemic consumer behaviours, expectations and concerns


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