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Inside Social

Inside Social (Aug 22nd, 2019)

Hey, Inside Social readers!

If you haven't already, go over to Twitter and follow Inside Social's Twitter List. It includes over 100 accounts from journalists, thinkers, and others who are starting fascinating conversations about the social media industry every day. Just today I added Atlantic tech writer Sidney Fussell — who just wrote this great piece about Facebook's News Tab project — and Wired scribe and Marketplace Tech radio host Molly Wood — who just wrote a great piece about the ethics of data mining

Also, go tell a friend to subscribe to Inside Social!

That is all.

-Jay

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1. As part of a broad social media influence campaign, the Chinese government has reportedly bought Facebook ads and promoted tweets to spread the word about how nice its internment camps are for Chinese Muslims. Following on news of fake accounts the government was running on Facebook and Twitter to spread misinformation about the protests in Hong Kong, as well as purchasing ads and promoted tweets to do the same, we now learn that the Chinese government has also been spreading misinformation about camps where it has imprisoned Uighurs — a Muslim ethnic minority — for the past two years. "Xinjiang center trainees graduate with hope for future," says one video ad on Facebook, promoted by the government-owned tabloid Global Times. After negative stories in the New York Times and elsewhere about China's treatment of Uighurs, the government is attempting (poorly) to convince an international audience, via social platforms that are banned within the country, that these camps are merely "vocational education and training centers." – VOX

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3. Throwback Thursday: Kendall and Kylie Jenner join MySpace (2007). Following the lead of their soon-to-be mega-famous sisters, Kendall and Kylie Jenner got on MySpace at the age of 10, in 2007. Their profiles then remained frozen in time as the world moved on to Facebook and Twitter, but someone screencapped them back in 2013 (when they were 16), so that we can still look back at their innocent faces. Kendall's headline: "It's all about me." Kylie's headline: "KYLIE ROCKS." Kylie now enjoys over 144 million followers on Instagram, while sister Kendall has a mere 115 million. 

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4. The U.S. and China are in an international proxy war over the tech sector, and TikTok should serve as a particular wake-up call for Silicon Valley, says journalist Matt Sheehan. Sheehan has a new book out called The Transpacific Experiment, and in it he discusses how shared human and financial capital between the U.S. and China has helped grow two enormous tech sectors. The two have coexisted peaceably for the most part, but that may be changing. Sheehan points to the success of TikTok as being "the first time that a technology brand, platform, and product, which grew very directly out of the Chinese tech ecosystem, has found organic traction internationally." And he says it should put American tech companies on alert because it proves that China can be competitive in spaces where, traditionally, we've believed they couldn't. – ONE ZERO

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5. Snapchat is now being used to sell illegal weapons. The feds recently busted a small arms trafficking ring in California's Bay Area after a Nevada man allegedly sold over 100 semi-automatic and automatic weapons after marketing them to prospective buyers on Snapchat. – GUARDIAN

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6. The ethics of data mining get very complicated very fast when it comes to our health. Companies that collect data on us, from social media to health apps, should always give us opt-in and opt-out options, says Wired, because the universe of this data is only going to grow, and it may be used for much more onerous ends than serving us well-targeted ads in the future. – WIRED

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7. The Atlantic's Sidney Fussell today looks at how Facebook has come full circle when it comes to human curation and the news. Facebook is just the latest example of a big tech platform acknowledging the limitations of an algorithmic model — which tends to amplify the things we are most drawn to looking at, regardless of whether they're good for us, or true. – THE ATLANTIC

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8. One Zero has an interesting think piece about the phenomenon of witnessing an acquaintance's mental breakdown from afar, via Facebook. Industrialization and urbanization served to isolate us and give us anonymity, writes Michael R. McBride, but "in a profound twist of fate, our instant access to people and information all around the globe has actually made our world much smaller." – ONE ZERO

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9. A New York Times columnist discusses the ironic truths behind that Instagram hoaxThe boilerplate legalese actually doesn't sound any less absurd than the online user agreements we sign off on all the time, says John Herrman. – NEW YORK TIMES

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10. Some YouTube users report that they had videos of robot fights removed by the site because some AI thought it was animals fighting. The platform has a rule against animal-fight footage, but apparently the robots behind YouTube can't recognize robots. – ARS TECHNICA

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Inside Social is written and curated by Jay Barmann. Jay has spent a decade covering the social media space and the tech world in general for SFist.com, the San Francisco branch of Gothamist. As editor of Grub Street San Francisco, he also covered the food world around the Bay Area. As a freelance writer he has written for SF Weekly, 7x7, Curbed SF, Eater SF, Eventbrite, New York Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine, among others. Follow him on Instagram at @conflator or Twitter at @jaybarmann.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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