Natural Language Processing for Facebook Messenger

September 15, 2017

In its continuing effort to evolve from a basic networking site to a platform for services, Facebook is making Messenger smarter. Silicon reports, “Facebook Bakes Natural Language Processing Messenger Platform 2.1.” The inclusion allows developers to create more functionality for organizations that wish to conduct chatbot-based business through Facebook Messenger itself, without having to utilize another site or app. Reporter Roland Moore-Colyer quotes Facebook’s Vivien Tong as he writes:

‘This first version can detect the following entities [within users’ messages]: hello, bye, thanks, date & time, location, amount of money, phone number, email and a URL. This is the first step in bringing NLP capabilities to all developers, enabling brands to scale their experiences on Messenger.’

The natural language processing capabilities come courtesy of Wit.aim a company Facebook acquired backing in 2015; its services have been available to developers for some time, but were not made native to the Messenger Platform until its latest iteration. Alongside in-built natural language processing, the overhauled Messenger Platform contains software development kits for developers to easily integrate payment services into Messenger and make it easier for to switch customer conversations from automated chatbots to human customer services.

Ah, yes, payment services are crucial, and being able to reach a real person is a sanity-saver (and a client-keeper.) Moore-Colyer notes this development is one in a series of advances for Messenger, and that Facebook’s embrace of smart tech extends to fighting terrorism within its platform.

Cynthia Murrell, September 15, 2017

Instagram Algorithm to Recognize Cruelty and Kindness

September 14, 2017

Instagram is using machine learning to make its platform a kinder place, we learn from the CBS  News article, “How Instagram is Filtering Out Hate.” Contributor (and Wired Editor-In-Chief) Nick Thompson interviewed Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom, and learned the company is using about 20 humans to teach its algorithm to distinguish naughty from nice. The article relates:

Systrom has made it his mission to make kindness itself the theme of Instagram through two new phases: first, eliminating toxic comments, a feature that launched this summer; and second, elevating nice comments, which will roll out later this year. ‘Our unique situation in the world is that we have this giant community that wants to express themselves,’ Systrom said. ‘Can we have an environment where they feel comfortable to do that?’ Thompson told ‘CBS This Morning’ that the process of ‘machine learning’ involves teaching the program how to decide what comments are mean or ‘toxic’ by feeding in thousands of comments and then rating them.

It is smarter censorship if you will. Systrom seems comfortable embracing a little censorship in favor of kindness, and we sympathize; “trolls” are a real problem, after all. Still, the technology could, theoretically, be used to delete or elevate certain ideological or political content. To censor or not to censor is a fine and important line, and those who manage social media sites will be the ones who must walk it. No pressure.

Cynthia Murrell, September 14, 2017

Let the Tweets Lead Your Marketing, Come What May

September 14, 2017

It seems that sales and marketing departments just can’t keep up with consumer patterns and behaviors. The latest example of this is explained in a DMA article outlining how to utilize social media to reach target leads. As people rely more on their own search and online acumen and less on professionals (IRL), marketing has to adjust.

Aseem Badshah, Founder, and CEO of Socedo, explain the problem and a possible solution:

Traditionally, B2B marketers created content based on the products they want to promote. Now that so much of the B2B decision making process occurs online, content has to be more customer-centric. The current set of website analytics tools provide some insights, but only on the audience who have already reached your website. Intent data from social media can help you make your content more relevant. By analyzing social media signals and looking at which signals are picking up in volume over time, you can gain new insights into your audience that helps you create more relevant content.

While everything Badshah says may be true, one has to ask themselves, is following the masses always a good thing? If a business wants to maintain their integrity to their field would it be in their best interest to follow the lead of their target demographic’s hashtags or work harder at marketing their product/service despite the apparent twitter-provided disinterest?

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 14, 2017

Google Innovation Convoluted to Many

September 7, 2017

In a race against time, Google seems to be struggling to keep up with Apple in many categories, messaging and video chat just to name a few. A recent Phandroid article called out Google on their multiple fails over the years in its plight to dominate Apple.

The primary criticism is Google’s lack of comparable messaging system. As the article explains,

Right now, Google’s solution for handling messaging for the average user is looking a lot like the early 90s landscape for all those competing messaging services. But at least those services were competing with one another. Google’s messaging services cannibalize one another as Google meanders down its course of attempting to find an iMessage solution in the wake of its upheavals.

Although the folks at Phandroid do make good points for Google’s identity crisis, they leave out many other innovations that, although possible missteps, are moving things forward. One such development is the introduction of YouTube Messenger that might seem redundant to many, but also answers many of the problems mentioned by Phandroid.

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 7, 2017

Facebook Unapologetic About Spy Tool

September 6, 2017

At what point does a company or industry hold too much power? That is exactly what a recent TNW article examined. According to the site, Facebook has unleashed an early spying tool to identify and then eradicate competition. Many examples of how Facebook has done this in the past, stealing such features as Stories or upcoming Bonfire, from start-ups, are listed as proof of the growing power the social media giant possesses.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and others all wield the same sort of power over smaller competitors. While the power shift isn’t revolutionary at its surface — offline businesses held the same sort of power for decades, and some still do — it’s the speed at which online companies grow, becoming ever-more-powerful, that makes it worth taking notice of.

With just a handful of companies (Google, Facebook, Apple primarily) holding so much revenue power in the global economy, it is important for us not to just gloss over these practices. What the future will hold for new companies with bold, new ideas is daunting, at the very least.

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 6, 2017

Fake News Is Here to Stay

August 22, 2017

Morphed pictures and videos were the realms of experts. New tools, however, are making it easier for people with average computer skills to create hyper-realistic content.

As reported by Mashable in an article titled This Scary Video Tool Makes Fake News Look Legit, which says:

Researchers at the University of Washington recently announced a new video-editing tool that they used to superimpose audio — with realistic lip movements — onto a video of former U.S. president Barack Obama, making it appear as though he’s saying whatever they want him to.

The intention of making this tool was to help special effects artists in the entertainment industry. However, as is the case with any other tool, the tool as a test run was to create a fake news content.  Couple this tool with other available tools like Google DeepMind AI and Lyrebird, a single person could be producing a number of fake videos sitting in the dungeon.

Social media platforms are already fighting the menace of fake news. However such tools make their tasks tougher. Facebook, for instance, employs an army of analysts to weed out fake news. Seems like until the problem of fake news or information is going to get worse.

Vishal Ingole, August 22, 2017

Chinese Sogou to Invade American Search

August 16, 2017

Having more than its fair share of the world’s population, China doesn’t do anything in small numbers. Search is no exception. It was recently announced that one of China’s most popular search engines has set its scope on the US.

According to TechNode,

Sogou, established in 2004, is the developer of China’s most popular Chinese input method service Sogou Pinin which takes more than 60% share in the mobile market. It’s also the operator of China’s top search engine, behind market leader Baidu, providing search service for Tencent’s WeChat social media platform as well as Microsoft’ Bing for English search in China. Company CEO Wang Xiaochuan disclosed in a recent speech that the firm is pivoting its focus to AI-driven search and navigation in the future.

The company has filed for a US IPO and is now just waiting for the all clear. What will this mean for current US search engines? With their increased focus on AI, Sogou is certainly poised to go head to head with the best the US has to offer, but will it be enough to win the hearts of Americans?

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 16, 2017

Social Intelligence a Nice Addition to Analytics, but Not Necessary

August 9, 2017

Social media is an ever-evolving tricky beast to tame when it comes to analytics which is why most companies do the best they can with the resources appointed to the job. Social intelligence gurus, however, are constantly pushing more ways to make sense of the mounting social data.

A recent CIO article exploring the growing field of social intelligence highlighted the role of Sally-Anne Kaminski, Global Social Media Strategy Manager, at Zebra Technologies. Her job was explained as:

When the sales enablement team approaches her about prospective clients, Kaminski taps Oracle’s Social Cloud, a social relationship management tool, to build a comprehensive dashboard to help the sales representative nail the sale. Kaminski loads Social Cloud’s Boolean search with keywords, phrases and topics to discover in conversations across Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as message boards and blogs.

Is it effective though? Even Kaminski admits there is no data showing her role analyzing social media data (beyond what analytics alone can do) is benefiting anyone. At the end of the day, social intelligence is reliant on the human touch (think more money) and we must question the operational value it provides.

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 9, 2017

Free Content Destroying Print Media

August 8, 2017

Today’s generation has no concept of having to wait for the day’s top stories till the newspaper is delivered. If they want to know something (or even they don’t) they simply turn on their Smart phone, tablet or even watch! With news stories available 24/7 with automatic alerts, most people under thirty can’t possibly fathom paying for it.

It almost wasn’t that way. According to Poynter,

In the 1990s, a cantankerous, bottom-line-obsessed and visionary Tribune Company executive named Charles Brumback pushed something that was called The New Century News Network. The top print news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Times-Mirror would form a network in which they’d house their content online and charge for it. Members would get paid based on usage. They even started a newswire that was similar to what we know as Google News.

Unfortunately, the heads of print media couldn’t see the future and how their pockets would be deflated due to the giving away of their content to online giants such as Facebook and Yahoo and Google.

Now, these same short-sighted network bigwigs are wanting Congress to intervene on their behalf. As the article points out, “running to Congress seems belated and impotent.”

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 8, 2017

Google: A Me Too from Mountain View

August 7, 2017

It is a tough world out there for a seller of online ads. From my point of view, the concentration of online advertising in the hands of Facebook and Google is a natural consequence of digital disintermediation. He who is most like the old Bell Telephone wins.

What does one do when an upstart comes up with a better idea? If one is a giant company’s chief innovator, the answer is obvious: Imitate, then use the power of scale to take lots of money.

I thought about this characteristic of online when I read “Google Reportedly Building Its Own Snapchat Competitor.” I would have used the word “killer,” not competitor, but that’s why I am a 74 year old retired person in rural Kentucky.

The write up (which may be a recycled variant of another real journalism effort) said:

Google is working on its answer to Snapchat. It’s called Stamp — a portmanteau of “stories” and “AMP,” the acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages …The new platform would be similar to Snapchat’s Discover feature, where publishers create and share made-for-Snapchat (or repurposed-for-Snapchat) content.

Didn’t Google try to buy Snap when it was just Snapchat?

Moral of the story:

The model and wife of Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has historically not been too thrilled about other tech companies ripping off her husband’s product. “Do they have to steal all of my partner’s ideas? I’m so appalled by that … When you directly copy someone, that’s not innovation.”

Steal?

Nah, that’s innovation the online way.

Stephen E Arnold, August 7, 2017

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