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Thursday News: Facebook apologizes for “fake name” snafu, E-books and research libraries, global gender bias in film, and the DA ad book is open

Thursday News: Facebook apologizes for “fake name” snafu, E-books and research...

Below is part of Cox’s apology letter, and you can read it in its entirety by clicking on the story link.

In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.

The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here. –Gigaom

The article does make some good points — about, for example, how digital books are currently not available through interlibrary loan and also subject to page download quotas — but comparing digital research books to payday loans and insisting that they are making people dumb threatens to eclipse some of the more legitimate issues.

E-books prevent deep reading, their use is highly restricted, and they can vanish without notice, so why are the CSU and the UC libraries experimenting with replacing paper with computer files? Is the e-book phenomenon yet another example of university administrators chasing after the latest e-fad? Like MOOCs (which even Sebastian Thrun of Udacity called “a lousy product”), e-books trade something that works for something that doesn’t, and even worse, threaten to destroy the very notion of a library. What’s the attraction? The answer is that e-books seem like a cheap way to access hundreds, if not thousands, of expensive books essential for research and teaching. Right now, the subscription packages Proquest and Ebsco offer may sound like they cost a lot (between $500-$800,000 a year), but the price is “extremely low relative to the number of books acquired,” to quote the CSU report on the e-book pilot project. The average cost per book for Ebrary’s package is between $5 and $9, a spectacular savings given that the average price for a hardcover scholarly book in the humanities is around $100, and many are much more expensive. –Times of San Diego

When thinking about gender representation in media, it’s essential to look at who is making our media. Female directors are more likely to work on projects with more women on screen. There’s no country that has gender balance behind the scenes in the film industry, but some do better than others. At the bottom of the pile is France, where male directors, writers, and producers outnumber women nine to one. Brazil is the most equitable overall, but the UK gets the special distinction of being the only film market where women make up a majority of film writers. –Bitch Magazine

Wednesday News: Amazon speaks, smartphones boost digital reading in India, has Apple dropped Beats, and Rogen v. Hornaday

Wednesday News: Amazon speaks, smartphones boost digital reading in India, has...

Amazon Responds to Discussion of Hachette Contract Dispute – Amazon has broken its silence on the Hachette negotiations, and, as Nate Hoffelder points out, it’s much more generous to Hachette than Hachette has been to Amazon. Also, how is it no one seems to have learned anything since the agency pricing debacle?

Negotiating with suppliers for equitable terms and making stocking and assortment decisions based on those terms is one of a bookseller’s, or any retailer’s, most important jobs. Suppliers get to decide the terms under which they are willing to sell to a retailer. It’s reciprocally the right of a retailer to determine whether the terms on offer are acceptable and to stock items accordingly. A retailer can feature a supplier’s items in its advertising and promotional circulars, “stack it high” in the front of the store, keep small quantities on hand in the back aisle, or not carry the item at all, and bookstores and other retailers do these every day. When we negotiate with suppliers, we are doing so on behalf of customers. Negotiating for acceptable terms is an essential business practice that is critical to keeping service and value high for customers in the medium and long term. –The Digital Reader

Smartphones drive ebook sales in India – Another article on the global interdependence of smartphone technology and digital reading. While developing markets still depend on smartphones for growth of digital book sales, the impact of ereading technologies on the digital book market is substantial – for markets in which Amazon is present, owning a Kindle means that someone will buy, on average, four times the number of books they otherwise would.

But the smartphone surge, and the availability of reading apps on them, are redrawing the book market. “Few in India would want to spend a minimum of Rs 7,000 on an e-reader and then pay money to buy e-books,” says Thomas Abraham, MD of Hachette India. “But now, with tablets and smartphones (that you bought anyway) having reading apps, we are seeing the beginnings of what might well be a big change. Last year we saw a quantum jump in sales,” he says.

Ditto for Flipkart, India’s biggest bookseller. Since their launch in November 2012 on the e-commerce site, e-books have seen an eight-fold growth. The growth got a huge boost last year in July when Flipkart launched multiple e-books reader apps with features that allowed access to any section of the book instantaneously, personalization, bookmarking of pages, highlighting text, taking notes, and reference to a dictionary while reading. They now even have a text-to-speech feature where the app reads out the book to you, useful when you are, say, driving, or for the visually challenged. –The Times of India

Did Dr. Dre kill the Apple-Beats deal with his drunken video selfie? – So Dr. Dre and Tyrese Gibson made a video in early May, announcing the sale of Beats headphones to Apple and the fact that the deal would make Dr. Dre “the first billionaire in rap.” That video, which was also apparently fueled by a fair number of Heineken beers, has in turn fueled speculation that Apple has pulled back from the deal, due to the likely unauthorized public representation of the deal. Hmmm.

Not only was it inconsistent with Apple’s famously secretive product launches and buttoned-up corporate image, but Dr. Dre was almost certainly subject to a non-disclosure agreement which he blasted to hell with video, disclosing the deal to the entire internet and dropping a few “motherfuckers” to boot. –Death and Taxes

Seth Rogen Is Not A Victim Of The Santa Barbara Killings – I’m not a big fan of the argument that books and movies influence people’s behavior in any substantial way, especially when that behavior is extreme and extremely anti-social. I think the relationship between culture/media and individuals is complex and multilayered, and that it’s not a simple matter of irrelevance v effect. Still, I think this article makes some really good points about how Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow (in whom I’m REALLY disappointed) missed a huge point, and a major opportunity to be part of a necessary social awakening about the diseased thinking that misogyny represents, instead of the self-centered defensiveness that is so very much a part of the problem.

To quote Hornaday: “For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny).”

This is the point at the heart of the op-ed that really matters. Neighbors is just referenced as the latest in a long, long line of movies in which men are granted what they desire, always and without question, even if what they desire is not a what, but a who. –Think Progress