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In the digital world, all creators have lived in the shadow of an existential paradox.
On the one hand, the media firms that have historically supported the livelihoods of writers, journalists, and other audio- and video-storytellers are in economic decline. As a result, it is harder for the creators to make a living. On the other hand, individual creators have never before had the kind of direct reach they do today. Many podcasters have larger audiences than the radio stations of yore. Instagram fashionistas outdo most glossy fashion magazines. And there are thousands of journalists with followerships that rival the reader-base of a mid-sized newspaper.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned this paradox into a full-blown crisis. To many in the industry, the cause is self-evident: Big Tech platforms, especially Facebook and Google. Their dominance is painfully evident every quarter when, in lockstep, the platforms announce their ever-growing share of the advertising market while traditional media report deep declines. The demands for regulating or taxing the platforms to protect parts of the industry like the especially vulnerable news business grow louder every year.
However, the proposed remedies fail to address the deeper issue: When it comes to the creator economy, the digital world lacks some fundamental features of a well-functioning market. Black-box algorithms drive how a creator is discovered and how many viewers she reaches. It is not so much a failure as an absence of open markets, because what the platforms have created is an ecosystem designed entirely for advertising efficiency. In this world, creators are a side story.
The good news for creators is that there is a significant new technology shift underway that has the potential to revitalize the open market: a new era of friction-less payments. Two developments are enabling this: seamless payments on mobile phones; and the less glamorous technology of interbank micropayments. Thanks to biometrics on new smartphones—including fingerprint readers and face ID technology—all one needs is to tap one’s phone to make payments. In India, for instance, the Universal Payment Interface—a standard for bank-to-bank micropayments—permits transactions worth less than ten cents. Worldwide, more than 400 million people use Apple Pay, which has overtaken all other forms of contactless payments in the two years since its rollout.
Once it is as easy for creators or creative firms to charge users for a post as it is to simply post something on social media, the consequences will be far- reaching. It will enable what economists refer to as “vertically and horizontally differentiated” markets, of the kind already found in much traditional media. In a media category such as fiction, for example, there are a breadth of genres available, from literary fiction to pulp (vertical differentiation) and all shades in between. And within each genre, there are multiple levels of quality (horizontal axes of differentiation). The result is the incredible variety of books, cinema, TV, and radio that we take for granted today. The edifice of digital content built entirely on advertising supports no such sophistication.
Seamless payments as a fundamental building block of the emerging web will support a creative economy that’s more diverse and less monopolistic than today’s. New services like Patreon and email subscription platform SubStack, which allow creators to collect payments from their fans, are early proofs of concept. (My own company, Scrollstack, is another.) In China, audiences have advanced the furthest in terms of relying on frictionless payments to buy content. For example, Ximalaya, a micropayments-based platform, has helped establish a multibillion-dollar market for a totally new category of audio works.
A more sophisticated market for creative works will not automatically solve all problems. Some creative endeavors simply won’t attract the number of patrons needed to support them. Many newsrooms, for example, might need to rely on philanthropic support to fund their reporting and investigative work. What made the old creative industries both prolific and culturally significant—patience and creative risk taking—will also take time to emerge. While the technology is here now, what is still far off is the emergence of a publisher like Margaret Anderson, whose periodical The Little Review supported James Joyce for several years in the writing of Ulysses.
Yet that is no cause for despair, because micropayments on the open web are establishing the preconditions for such risk-taking by creators and producers. Without the imperative of reaching millions of “active users” for ad dollars, creators can conceive of projects that are viable at much smaller scale. This has the potential to power a better Internet of creative experimentation.
Samir Patil is the founder and CEO of ScrollStack.com a mobile-first, multi-lingual platform that enables creators to charge for their works.
A group of civil rights organizations blasted Facebook on Wednesday, calling out the platform’s role in allowing hate and bigotry to fester and urging an advertiser boycott.
The groups, including the NAACP, Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, are asking what the social network could do with the $70 billion in annual revenue that it makes from advertising — claiming that Facebook’s tolerance of hate allowed white supremacy and racism to flourish.
“Today, we are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July,” a full page ad in The Los Angeles Times says. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”
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Although many of these groups have been in conversation with Facebook for several years, and the company has invested in content moderators and machine learning technology to remove hate speech, the organizations believe it hasn’t done enough to stem the spread of racism, anti-Semitism and bigotry.
The tech giant has faced renewed pressure, including from some of its own employees who staged a virtual walkout, to remove or fact-check posts from President Trump regarding the ongoing protests and riots over racism and police brutality in the U.S. However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the decision in a companywide video conference.
In contrast, Twitter put a label on Trump’s tweets for “glorifying violence.”
Organizers, who are starting with dozens of companies that advertise on Facebook and plan to eventually include hundreds, are hoping that the boycott has the effect of forcing the social network to move quickly.
“We have long seen how Facebook has allowed some of the worst elements of society into our homes and our lives. When this hate spreads online it causes tremendous harm and also becomes permissible offline,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, in a statement emailed to Fox News.
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“Our organizations have tried individually and collectively to push Facebook to make their platforms safer, but they have repeatedly failed to take meaningful action. We hope this campaign finally shows Facebook how much their users and their advertisers want them to make serious changes for the better,” he added.
Multiple Facebook users had their accounts blocked or banned over the weekend for sharing an article that featured an image of Australian Aboriginal men in chains, according to a Monday report.
A Facebook user had made a post refuting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s assertion that Australia had never had slavery – comments he retracted a day later. The user’s post featured a photo from the 1890s showing Aboriginal men in chains.
Facebook removed the post and restricted the man’s account, claiming that the photo contained nudity and violated the site’s community standards, the Guardian reported.
Facebook restored the man’s account and apologized a day later after inquiries from Guardian Australia.
A company spokeswoman said the removal had been the result of an automated process and was a mistake.
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Yet dozens of other Facebook users reported the same issues when they tried to repost a link to the Guardian article. Some were even banned for up to 30 days for attempting to share it, the Guardian reported.
Many users reported being told that Facebook had fewer staff to review takedowns because of the coronavirus pandemic and they are “trying to prioritize reviewing content with the most potential for harm.”
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The social media company appeared on Monday to have allowed the article to be shared without restriction or ban.
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According to the Aspect Consumer Experience Index, 61 percent of consumers feel that chatbots are the future of customer service. Meanwhile, 70 percent of millennials report positive experiences with chatbots. Chatbots are making the future more conversational, more proactive, and are helping to build bridges between companies and their customers rather than erecting barriers. If you’re looking to integrate chatbots into your company without breaking the bank, it may be easier and more affordable than you think thanks to companies like Botsify.
Botsify is a fully-managed chatbot platform that puts the power of better customer service in your hands. This AI-powered software is integrated with multiple platforms so you can quickly reply to visitors on Facebook Messenger, your website, and more locations. As soon as visitors land on your pages, Botsify can engage them with a personalized message and start guiding them through their buying journey. You can even integrate it into WhatsApp to convert visitors into potential clients.
Botsify goes above and beyond by providing analysis of your customized chatbot’s progress. You’ll be able to see how the bots have attracted visitors, converted sales, generated leads, and much more. In other words, you can actually measure if it’s working or not. With Story Tree, you can review your chart flow to make instant changes whenever necessary to address any concerns. Plus, live chat allows you to put a user in front of a human any time, whenever you want. You can even automate responses to comments on your Facebook page. A chatbot can do more than increase customer engagement. It can improve your sales and marketing techniques without costing you much.
Botsify is available in a number of subscription options. You can get a five-year Personal Plan for $49, a five-year Professional Plan for $149, or a five-year Business Plan for $999. The Business Plan also offers you the opportunity to white-label the product and sell it to individual clients for additional revenue. Any of the above plans would be cheaper than the cost of hiring just a single customer service agent, so it is certainly worth a try.