Facebook launches new Groups tools, and Google spends lobbying money on journalism

Facebook does a good thing, and Google does something that merely looks nice. This is platform economy life.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Facebook adds useful new Groups tools

Hold on to your hats, folks. I'm about to say nice things about Facebook.

For a couple of years now, the big action on Facebook hasn't been on Pages (unless you're willing to pay for reach), but in Groups. This is a mixed bag — a lot of toxicity can get hidden away in closed groups, and thus Facebook doesn't take nearly as much stick for it as it does for the public stuff…

So, both a good PR initiative and an anti-regulation move.

On the other hand, groups are genuinely useful as community engagement spaces, and these tools should make life for group admins significantly easier:

Supporting Online Communities When They’re Needed Most - About Facebook
Today we’re hosting the Facebook Communities Summit digitally, sharing product updates and educational resources for community leaders.

This one looks particularly handy:

To start, a new “Admin Assist” tool will help Facebook Group administrators better moderate posts by automatically declining posts that use certain keywords.

I'm intrigued by the possibilities that open up with Prompts, which are designed to encourage conversations with photos. It's merely productising an existing practice, but there's nothing wrong with that.

I've never been a fan of Facebook, but it is an inescapable part of our landscape for the time being — and these tools are thoughtful and look useful.

Facebook is introducing a suite of new features for Facebook Groups, the private social networking product now used by over 1.8 billion people every month. At the company’s digitally hosted Facebook Communities Summit today, Facebook detailed a set of upcoming tools aimed at those who run Groups, wh…

Google invests in anti-regulation lobbying

Look, I know everyone is terribly excited by Google throwing money at journalism, but frankly it's (a) peanuts for them, and (b) is so clearly as much about dodging regulation, and avoiding being seen as the bad guy like Facebook, that it's hard to get much enthusiasm for it.

Anyway, here's the news:

Google is paying publishers more than $1 billion to create and curate high-quality content
It’s Google’s biggest financial commitment to the news industry in its history.

I'm uncomfortable with the way these investments tend to prop up the existing players rather than make it easier for smaller, more innovative media outlets to participate. As Peter Houston put it in this morning's Media Roundup:

We’re generally happy when the tech giants put money back into journalism, but… this new money is an extension of the existing news licensing program and the bit that’s problematic about that is that the money is restricted to 'select’ publishers. We’d still like to see a fix that works for everyone.


Have a thread by Emily Bell as a chaser:

Thread by @emilybell on Thread Reader App
Thread by @emilybell: Google’s extension of $1bn to the news industry (maybe) over 3 years represents c 3x it’s current rate of global expenditure on supporting the news industry. Or lobbying against regulation dep...…

Money quote:

If you're lucky enough to work for some of the companies that will benefit from this, then, well, take the money — but figure out how to use it in a way that will grow your audience, allowing you to be sustainable without charity from the big tech companies. Don't let them trap you in a cycle of dependence.

Beware Platforms Bearing Gifts

This is just terrific analysis of the issues involved. Thanks to Mathew Ingram for the link.

Beggars and Choosers — Center for Journalism & Liberty
Consider Google and Facebook’s contradictory behavior toward journalism: They pledge financial support to bolster quality news but fail to reform their anticompetitive business models and harmful data privacy violations, which continue to disrupt journalism’s ability to pay for itself.

Micro.blog hits 2.0

The other blog platform I use, micro.blog, just released a major update. It's a profoundly different product to Ghost, which I use to publish these very words you're reading now, which is why I find it useful for more passing thoughts, and casual shares.

Nice to see a diverse range of innovation in the blog platform/CMS space, which was in danger of becoming an effective WordPress monopoly.

Micro.blog News - Press Release: Micro.blog 2.0 Makes It Easier to Customize Your Blog
Micro.blog 2.0 Makes It Easier to Customize Your Blog, Adds Bookmark Archiving and Highlighting to PremiumAustin, TX – September 29, 2020 – Micro.blog released version 2.0 of its blogging and social engagement platform. The new version has redesigned the interface to make it easier to edit posts, c…
Looking at this, I think I see an immature market; which is to say, the mapping between price and value is not orderly.
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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.