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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 9:32:17 PM
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Finding Content...
Our discussions of search and trending topics reminds me that there seems to be an opportunity for a media search engine to help viewers find the shows/movies/videos that they're interested in watching (because there's so much video content now, fragmented over so many distribution channels). 

Apple TV attempts to find whatever shows you might be looking for across iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO... and other apps that use the Apple TV API for 'universal search' functions... And I think with more "TV Everywhere"-like apps, there will be a growing need for media searches that find shows/videos across apps and networks. (It's not an easy problem to solve!)

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205321

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 9:25:43 PM
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Platinum
Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
> "Don't those reputation management services have to manipulate search results in just that way -- to bury..."

Well, not too long ago, it was possible to improve the "Pagerank" of any link by putting links to whatever site you wanted to improve in a LOT of comments sections of popular blogs. (This is part of the reason why comment spam is so popular....) There were also tricks to get Content Farms to produce sites that promoted a lot of decent info.. along with some shady "paid for" info. So there were effective tactics to get positive things highlighted AND negative stuff buried.... 

I don't keep up to date on the current SEO tricks, but they are constantly evolving as Google plays cat&mouse with them. There used to be SEO competitions to try to figure out strategies -- just like black hat hacker conventions -- with prize money for people who could get the best search rankings. I'm not sure if those contests still exist, but I'm pretty sure SEO games are still being played (and are effective for some).... 

Part of the game is just to make some advertising cheaper. Google's search ads are priced with some mystery algorithm that discounts for relevancy -- so if you can get your ads to be more relevant, your ads will be cheaper. (And one way to try to game that is to make search results more relevant to your ads via SEO tactics.)

 

 

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Ariella
Ariella
5/11/2016 6:56:38 PM
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Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
< I'm sure there are plenty of other examples that don't attract as much attention and work successfully to emphasize or de-emphasize search results that people want to promote (or hide).>

@mhhf1ve Interesting. Don't those reputation management services have to manipulate search results in just that way -- to bury (as you can't quite censor the internet) the negative mentions and highlight the positive ones? I'm not quite sure how they work other than by putting in a lot more positive stuff and playing around with SEO and the fact that more recent stuff tend to come up first to achieve the more positive light.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 6:28:56 PM
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Platinum
Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
> "Google has its share of lawsuits over that..."

Well, I wasn't thinking of the EU antitrust issues Google has over potentially promoting its own services over rivals, but that's a good example.

I was more thinking about how SEO firms are constantly gaming the Google ranking algorithms to try to get the "organic" results to favor (or disfavor) various things. There was a semi-recent story of how UC Davis paid a SEO reputation company to try to move the "campus police pepper spraying students at a peaceful protest" links down the search result ranks.... That particular case backfired, but I'm sure there are plenty of other examples that don't attract as much attention and work successfully to emphasize or de-emphasize search results that people want to promote (or hide).

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Ariella
Ariella
5/11/2016 5:04:43 PM
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Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
<but it's pretty much impossible for Google to be "transparent">@mhhf1ve Google has its share of lawsuits over that, as well. The same WSJ article I linked to before happened to mention that: 

Google parent Alphabet Inc. faces antitrust charges in Europe for allegedly using the algorithm behind its search engine to favor its own sites over rivals.' Google denies violating European law.

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 3:39:51 PM
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Platinum
Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
> "what you see trending may be the result of another company's manipulations..."

This is a very similar problem to what Google faces with its search result ranking algorithms -- everyone is trying to game search engine results, too... but it's pretty much impossible for Google to be "transparent" and fight these SEO players at the same time. And I think Facebook is in the same position of trying to fend off the SEO-analogy players for its "trending topics" algorithm. 

It's very hard to keep out all these influences and try to be transparent at the same time, and I think Congress trying to step in... makes the situation even more ridiculous. There is no law that can adapt quick enough to these changes, and there's likely no way legislation can make trending topics or search results "objective" without seriously hindering innovation and the free market. 

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Ariella
Ariella
5/11/2016 3:22:22 PM
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Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
@mhhf1ve that's about what FB claims, as relayed in http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-refutes-criticisms-about-a-bias-against-conservatives-1462890206.  What they don't admit to, though, is that what you see trending may be the result of another company's manipulations. The New York Times has investe din a startup called Keywee that sends out selected content on FB pages in the hope of attracting eyeballs and subscribers. There's an explanation of how it works here: http://digiday.com/publishers/new-york-times-finds-new-subscribers-facebook/ I should think that would play a role in what individuals see as trending. It's not necessarily what's trending but what services paying to distribute their own content through FB are sending out. 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 2:53:08 PM
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Platinum
So much content...
> "Now we have 92 partner sites and our customers are watching a plethora of content. We've come a long way in a short amount of time."

It really is amazing how much more content there is out there now. It's impossible for any single person to keep up on all of it. There used to be those "Talk Soup" like shows that meta-aggregated all the highlights of the talk shows. We're going to need more of those meta shows for web content to cover viral videos and reality TV and all the singing/dancing/talent contests and cooking shows and Let's Play videos and all the other new genres of video that no individual could possible have time to watch... 

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
5/11/2016 2:44:37 PM
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Platinum
Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
>"Facebook is under scrutiny for manipulating feeds..."

Every "media" entity has some bias -- and it's not necessarily possible to be completely transparent. I doubt Facebook had its engineers specifically try to reduce "conservative" topics in its trending algorithms. It could have been a feedback loop that trained machine learning in this way -- and engineers didn't even know what it was really doing because they were measuring different metrics. For instance, Facebook's trending topics might have been trying to maximize engagement, and it just so happened that the population that uses Facebook's trending topics the most are liberal-leaning users -- and that fact biased the topics algorithm towards liberal topics without any single person or entity making that decision. It's a kind of "wisdon of the crowds" that wouldn't necessarily have been anticipated....

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Ariella
Ariella
5/11/2016 9:35:48 AM
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Re: I wonder how much of a threat they view....
<(Does Trump have a media company..?)> @mhhf1ve to the best of my knowledge he doesn't own one. But he doesn't have to. He clearly subscribes to the view that there's no such thing as bad publicity, and he knows how to get it going. There's a take on that here:

http://www.ibtimes.com/how-digital-media-made-money-pretending-shame-donald-trump-over-taco-tweet-2365362

The Taco Incident is a microcosm of the general duplicity digital media has enjoyed this election season — Huffington Post in particular — shaming voters and networks for their interest in Trump while splashing his face on every conceivable corner of their websites. 

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