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The Dots, a fast-rising social network which describes itself as “a professional network for the people and teams that don’t wear suits to work” – in other words it’s LinkedIn for those in more creative roles – looks set to enjoy some healthy expansion as the company recently secured £4m in funding via investments, which will be used to facilitate further growth.

The network raised the £4m sum in an investment round led by Hambro Perks, which also saw investments being made by advertising agency gurus Sir John Hegarty and Tom Teichman, whose investment fund The Garage Soho invested, and female-focused investors Angel Academe. The funds will now be used in an effort to secure lucrative overseas expansion of the network’s user base, drawing from a global pool of an estimated 80 million “no collar” creative millennial professionals.

The creative individuals often cost a lot when it comes to recruitment, and therein lays The Dots’ value. The network has already accumulated around 250,000 members since it was first launched by founder Pip Jamieson in 2014, with current clients including the likes of Google, Burberry, Sony Pictures, Viacom, M&C Saatchi, Warner Music, Tate, Discovery Networks, and VICE, among others.

The Dots facilitates networking by collecting data on full teams that create projects, making their network “high-trust”, since members have actually worked with another connected member.

The plan for the future is to incorporate machine learning into their operations, utilising gathered data to make personalised recommendations to clients and in the longer-term enable the hiring of full teams, rather than limiting their service solely to individuals.

“Everyone thinks LinkedIn is insurmountable, but that’s exactly why I believe it’s ripe for disruption,” says Pip Jamieson. “LinkedIn was built around the networking needs of a traditional workforce of ‘White Collar’ professionals. However, there is a new professional class emerging, who have different networking preferences and need an alternative solution that reflects their behavioural and career preferences.”

Sir John Hegarty also commented, “Whole waves of traditional industries will disappear or radically change due to automation. But there is no algorithm for creativity - creators are our future workforce. So if we want our economies to thrive, we need to support the people and teams that bring ideas to life. That is what The Dots is all about; connecting, supporting and championing the people, teams, and brands that make ideas happen.”

Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, who served as vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”. The remarks against his former employer were made to an audience at a Stanford Business School event in November, but were only brought to light this week by tech website The Verge.

In Chamath Palihapitiya’s address he recommended that people should take a “hard break” from social media in general, adding that, “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said in reference of course to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, and thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem - this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

As pointed out by The Guardian, Palihapitiya’s comments last month were made just one day after Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, criticised Facebook for “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology” by creating a “social-validation feedback loop” during an interview at an Axios event. It seems that negative sentiment toward the company is rising on the whole, and they will want to be careful to ensure that this does not become a significant hurdle to future success. It is worth noting however that despite his general criticism on their flagship platform, Palihapitiya did later add that he believes the company “overwhelmingly does good in the world”.

“I can’t control them,” Palihapitiya said of his former employer. “I can control my decision, which is that I don’t use that s**t. I can control my kids’ decisions, which is that they’re not allowed to use that s**t.”

Palihapitiya’s comments provide an interesting inside perspective on the massively popular platform and the larger company, and the fact that he still supports their endeavours on the whole is truly telling given his criticism of their best-known service. At this point we would be eager to hear your thoughts on the matter, so be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

We’ve all seen photos online at some point which show a beaming holiday-goer or traveller happily embracing an exotic wild creature, with koalas, sloths, and dolphins being particularly prevalent targets of such activities. Over recent years awareness has thankfully begun to spread concerning the fact that in many cases, the subjects of these photos are subjected to harm and cruelty all in the name of a like-worthy snap.

Instagram, given its image-focused nature, is a natural home for such content, but the company are now taking steps to stop the spread of material on their platform which hay be harmful to animals or the environment.

“We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform,” Instagram’s Emily Cain told National Geographic. “I think it’s important for the community right now to be more aware. We’re trying to do our part to educate them.”

Following the announced update, if you attempt to search for several hundred terms deemed to include content which is potentially harmful to the animal subjects of the associated photos or the environment as a whole, the app will throw up a flag saying “Protect Wildlife on Instagram”, explaining that “you are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behaviour to animals or the environment”. After being presented with this rather blunt message are you able to see posts, learn more, or cancel the operation.

It is hoped that the presence of such warnings will make people pause and reflect, as explained by Cassandra Koenen, head of wildlife campaigns at World Animal Protection, who worked on the list with Instagram.

“If someone’s behaviour is interrupted,” says Koenen, “hopefully they’ll think, ‘maybe there’s something more here’, or ‘maybe I shouldn’t just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there’s a problem with this photo’.”

Instagram have not disclosed which hashtags have been flagged for such treatment as they wanted users to find them organically through their normal use of the platform. They also want to prevent those who intentionally use the platform to facilitate illicit wildlife practices from being able to pre-emptively get around the warnings.

Experts at influencer marketing agency, Influencer Champions, are advising brands that they should consider getting involved with ‘Vlogmas’, the latest and hottest festive social media trend, if they want to get their products under  everyone’s tree this year.
Now an annual tradition among social media influencers and their followers, such is the phenomenon, in December 2016 Vlogmas and Blogmas gained a total of 156,086 mentions on social media, across platforms including YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. 
The concept involves influencers using their favoured social media and blogging platforms to showcase their festive-themed fun and every day activities from the first of December to Christmas Day.
However, Vlogmas offers more than just a sprinkle of festive fun- it presents opportunities for brands to get involved, helping them raise their profile and be seen by their target audience.  
Influencer Champions, an agency that pairs top brands with high-profile influencers, have put together three key reasons for brands to get involved with Vlogmas this festive season, whether it be through product placement or paid sponsorship. 
1. One mention leads to great worldwide exposure 
The first, and probably most obvious benefit of a brand incorporating Vlogmas into their Christmas marketing strategy, is the exposure it will bring. 
Millions of YouTube users tune into watch various Vlogmas videos and if a brand chooses to work with one of the top social media influencers, who have subscribers in the millions, a simple mention of a brand could significantly raise a brand’s profile. 
2. An influencer for everything 
Social media influencers have grown in popularity over the past 10 years, and in that time a whole host of influencers specialising in different topics have emerged. From gaming and technology to beauty and lifestyle. 
Throughout Vlogmas, these influencers all come up with their own unique videos and posts, so, no matter the brand, there is likely to be an influencer to suit. 
3. Get creative, get involved
Vlogmas and Blogmas allows a brand to get creative with their marketing. From hand-picking an influencer, deciding on the video it is best featured in, and instructing the influencer on how to pitch the brand, a brand can have input into the entire process.
Amelia Neate, Senior Manager of Influencer Champions, says:
“Christmas is a key time for brands, but it can be easy to get lost in competitor noise. Utilising influencer marketing through Vlogmas can be a very effective, organic-feeling method of reaching a target audience, driving awareness and ultimately sales over the busy December period.”
For more information regarding Influencer Champions, please visit:

In the wake of widespread criticism concerning the vast amount of hateful and/or extremist content still present on their platform, Alphabet-owned YouTube are now taking additional steps to counteract the spread of such material with the announcement that they will take on more staff to work toward addressing policy-violating content. Not only will these individuals allow for more thorough human analysis of content, the additional data they provide should also help YouTube to improve their machine learning software, perhaps lessening the need for human interference in the future.

“The goal is to bring the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate its policies to over 10,000 in 2018,” YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki said in one of a pair of blog posts on Monday.

She also addressed criticism from the platform’s content creators regarding videos that were mistakenly flagged as hateful or otherwise inappropriate. These videos often had their advertising options removed, costing innocent creators money in the process.

“We need an approach that does a better job determining which channels and videos should be eligible for advertising,” said Wojcicki. “We’ve heard loud and clear from creators that we have to be more accurate when it comes to reviewing content, so we don’t demonetise videos by mistake.”

In addition, Ms Wojcicki said the company would take “aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether.”

Use of the Facebook platform is restricted to those aged 13 and above; at least that’s what the terms and conditions say. In reality there are hordes of preteen children using the site on a daily basis, and Facebook are now taking steps to address this issue.

This is the justification used by the social media giant as they launch ‘Messenger Kids’, a brand new app available on Apple devices which purportedly aims to provide a safer environment for those young children who are using Facebook’s existing Messenger service anyway, but who by doing so risk exposure to content that may be considered harmful to kids of their age.

Img: Facebook

The new app comes with a slew of parental controls; for example the service won’t let children add their own friends or delete messages, only their parents can do that. Also, the child does not get a separate Facebook or Messenger account when signing up to the new app, and are instead given access to the service via an extension of their parent’s existing Facebook account.

Kristelle Lavallee, a children’s psychology expert and content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard University, advised Facebook throughout the design process. She warns that when young children do make use of services not designed for them, they risk harm through the very nature of such platforms.

“The risk of exposure to things they were not developmentally prepared for is huge,” she said.
In light of this, Ms Lavallee insists that Messenger Kids has been designed from the ground up to provide a “useful tool” that “makes parents the gatekeepers”. The interface and functions are apparently “a result of seeing what kids like,” which basically means an overload of images, emoji, and memes. Lavallee asserts that providing such a platform for kids who are just learning how to form relationships and stay in touch with parents digitally could actually be highly useful to their development of such traits.

The major legal problem for Facebook when it comes to underage users on their main platform is that federal law prohibits internet companies from collecting personal information on kids under 13 without their parents’ permission, and imposes restrictions on advertising to them. Given the vast amount of preteens already signed up to Facebook, the company are undoubtedly in breach of this law whether intentionally or otherwise. As such the launch of the new service is, according to CEO of the non-profit Family Online Safety Institute Mr Stephen Balkam, visible validation that Facebook is trying to deal with the situation pragmatically by steering young Facebook users to a service designed for them.

Facebook insist that the Kids app will not show ads or collect user data for advertising purposes, though they did state that some data will be collected but only that which is necessary for the proper operation of the service. The company also somewhat allayed fears that the new app was purely a way to ensure that users were signed up to their main platform as soon as possible with their insistence that it won’t automatically move users to the regular Messenger or Facebook when they get old enough; they may however give users the option to move contacts to Messenger down the line.

Despite all these apparently well-intentioned claims, some remain unconvinced. One such critic is James Steyer, CEO of the kids-focused non-profit group Common Sense, who admits that while he does like the idea of a messaging app which gives control to the parents, he worries about some aspects of the service. Among his concerns are whether Facebook’s promise to keep the service ad-free will last, and whether these ads will simply be passed on to the parents instead.

“Why should parents simply trust that Facebook is acting in the best interest of kids?” Steyer said in a statement. “We encourage Facebook to clarify their policies from the start so that it is perfectly clear what parents are signing up for.”

As the future of journalism and the widespread prevalence of ‘fake news’ and misinformation become matters of increased relevance, with social media platforms in particular facing mounting scrutiny and blame for facilitating this trend, Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), have announced that they will be pursuing an investigation into the role that Facebook and Google have played in disrupting the news media market to the detriment of publishers and consumers.

The probe into the actions of Facebook and Google, announced on Monday 4th December, forms part of a wider media reform initiative being undertaken by the Australian government, which was itself brought about due to growing concern for the future of journalism and the downfall of quality news sources as profits decline and newsrooms around the globe face damaging cuts and layoffs.

“We will examine whether platforms are exercising market power in commercial dealings to the detriment of consumers, media content creators and advertisers,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The inquiry also would study how Facebook and Google operated to “fully understand their influence in Australia”, he added.

A Google spokesman simply stated, “We look forward to engaging with this process as relevant.” Facebook on the other hand reportedly did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.
We will of course endeavour to keep you updated on any new development as the investigation progresses, but for now there is little else of note to say on this matter. A preliminary report is expected to emerge by the latter part of next year.

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