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  • Steven Wilson-Beales

Friday #Content Reads 10.02.17

This week I attended the News:rewired conference in London. Claire Wardle from First Draft News kicked off the event by delivering a brilliant keynote speech – in short, ‘We Are In an Information War’.

Varying levels of misinformation @cward1e #newsrw pic.twitter.com/RQgB4Nr0Ev — Steven Wilson-Beales (@stevewbeales) February 8, 2017

Claire referenced some great articles on Fake News in her presentation, most notable this one looking at how Fake News is going to become a lot more sophisticated in the months ahead. As someone who works in radio, this passage stood out for me:

“Audio advancements may be just as harrowing. At its annual developer’s conference, in November, Adobe showed off a new product that has been nicknamed “Photoshop for audio.” The product allows users to feed about ten to 20 minutes of someone’s voice into the application and then allows them to type words that are expressed in that exact voice. The resultant voice, which is comprised of the person’s phonemes, or the distinct units of sound that distinguish one word from another in each language, doesn’t sound even remotely computer-generated or made up. It sounds real. This sort of technology could facilitate the ability to feed one of Trump’s interviews or stump speeches into the application, and then type sentences or paragraphs in his spoken voice. You could very easily imagine someone creating fake audio of Trump explaining how he dislikes Mike Pence, or how he lied about his taxes, or that he did indeed enjoy that alleged “golden shower” in the Russian hotel suite. Then you could circulate that audio around the Internet as a comment that was overheard on a hot microphone. Worse, you could imagine a scenario in which someone uses Trump’s voice to call another world leader and threaten some sort of violent action. And perhaps worst of all, as the quality of imitation gets better and better, it will become increasingly difficult to discern between what is real behavior and what isn’t.”

Scary stuff indeed.

Elsewhere, Twitter has rolled out some new features to combat the trolls – but has this all happened a bit too late?

Best headline of the week must go to Richard Cohen who wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post entitled ‘Trump is a boy’s idea of a man’. So simple, but super punchy and really caught my attention in my newsfeed.

I found myself agreeing with David Zurawick at The Baltimore Sun who wrote Amid storm of Trump developments, a call for calmer, more centrist media. Obviously, there will always be two sides to an argument like this:

“As a columnist, I am not eager to say anything that might sound like I am calling for a tighter leash in language, attitude or latitude.

But even I was a little shocked last week to read Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus describing Trump’s behavior during his first week in office as “unhinged.” It came in a column that began: “Week One of the Trump administration was among the most alarming in the history of the American presidency.”

The primary definition of unhinged: mentally unbalanced or deranged.

Where do we go from here when the language in one of the nation’s most important newspapers is already at this fevered pitch just two weeks in? Will the impeachment columns start appearing next week?”

One thing to note about the article is this – it originally had no video at the top of this page but the publishers obviously saw it taking off and added it afterwards to drive moe video streams. A basic tactic but often overlooked – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with video, just provide the message in a variety of formats.

Frederic Filloux wrote a great article this week looking at how publishers are failing to create long-term audience loyalty models. I pulled this out as a healthy reminder of how much we are currently worth to Facebook and Google:

A reminder of how much you’re worth to Google and Facebook. https://t.co/uNjOTQwfjl pic.twitter.com/HbaO8HUMyR — Steven Wilson-Beales (@stevewbeales) February 6, 2017

And that’s it for the week folks, until next time…

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