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Why Can't Facebook Fix Itself?

By Published on .

Ad Age "Media Guy" columnist Simon Dumenco's media roundup for the morning of Wednesday, April 26:

Does the world need more live streaming video? Twitter seems to think so. (See No. 2, below.) Do we need more Trump-related comedy? Based on what I saw last night (No. 3), I'm going to say yes. What does it mean that Facebook is coming to grips with its "dangerous side," per The New York Times Magazine? Unclear! (No. 6.) And where did Sean Spicer lose his virginity? Seth Meyers has the "answer." (No. 7.) Anyway, let's get started ...

1. A bit of a stretch pun-wise, Daily News, but OK, fine:

Meanwhile, over on Twitter:

2. Speaking of Twitter, it "plans to air live video 24 hours a day, 7 days a week inside its apps and desktop site, building on the 800+ hours it aired in the first three months of 2017, Twitter COO and CFO Anthony Noto told BuzzFeed News," Alex Kantrowitz reports. "Call it Twitter TV or The Twitter Network, the always-on realization of Twitter's current live video offering of sports, news and entertainment programming is on its way."

3. Anthony Atamanuik's "President Trump" of Comedy Central's upcoming "The President Show" crashed "The Daily Show With Trevor Noah" last night and honestly, by the end of the segment, I almost started to forget that I wasn't watching the real President Trump.

4. Whoopsie, baby! "Serena Williams Reveals She Announced Her Pregnancy on Snapchat By Mistake," per Us Weekly's recounting of a TED Conference conversation on Tuesday between Williams and Gayle King of "CBS This Morning."

5. A Guardian guest editorial this morning titled "Live and death: Facebook sorely needs a reality check about video" by British technology journalist Olivia Solon begins,

It's barely a week since Facebook streamed the murder of 74-year-old grandfather Robert Godwin and the social network is reeling from another tragedy: a father in Phuket, Thailand, used Facebook Live to broadcast him killing his 11-month-old daughter before killing himself. Two harrowing clips of the incident were accessible to users on his Facebook profile for about 24 hours and were together viewed almost 400,000 times. The two cases provided grisly bookends to Facebook's annual developer conference F8, held in San Jose last week, just a day after Godwin's murder.

Solon writes that the F8 conference offered the usual Facebook Utopianism -- a "rose-tinted vision of a LOL-tastic future where we enhance our lives with digital trinkets in augmented and virtual reality" -- and it's time for Facebook to confront "its ability to amplify negative outcomes" in society.

6. The streaming-crime-on-Facebook problem also gets a mention (along with the F8 conference) in Farhad Manjoo's just-released April 30 New York Times Magazine cover story titled "Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug?" (Subhead: "Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?") Manjoo writes,

With its huge reach, Facebook has begun to act as the great disseminator of the larger cloud of misinformation and half-truths swirling about the rest of media. It sucks up lies from cable news and Twitter, then precisely targets each lie to the partisan bubble most receptive to it.

Manjoo's narrative arc, over a series of visits to Facebook HQ and across multiple conversations with Zuckerberg, is that the company is increasingly taking its "dangerous side" -- particularly in regard to the power of its News Feed -- seriously, but may just be too hampered by its deep-seated engineering mindset; e.g., "Facebook approaches the feed as an engineering project rather than an editorial one," as Manjoo puts it.

7. And finally, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer once again showed up on "Late Night With Seth Meyers" last night and conducted one of those strange press conferences in which for some reason he only answers questions from Meyers.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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