Wednesday News: Facebook, Amazon, Shelf, and the Princess of Paleontology
Senate Republicans Want Face Time With Facebook Over Trending Topics ‘Bias’ – So Facebook is now under scrutiny following a Gizmodo story claiming that some former employees at the social media service intentionally favored “liberal” news in the trending topics feed. And since the Republican-dominated US senate has plenty of time – given that they’re ignoring Obama’s Supreme Court nominee – the Commerce Committee stands ready to investigate this horror:
“If true, these allegations compromise Facebook’s ‘open culture’ and mission ‘to make the world more open and connected,'” Thune wrote Tuesday in a sharply worded letter to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, demanding that employees responsible for Trending Topics brief the Senate committee by May 24. . . .
Facebook has strenuously denied the Gizmodo report. In a statement late Monday, Tom Stocky, Facebook’s vice president for search, said Facebook not only has found “no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true” but also has “designed our tools to make that technically not feasible.” – NBC News
“Amazon Video Direct” takes aim at the professional side of YouTube – Although the new Amazon Video Direct service is being called a YouTube competitor, Ars Technica points out that this service is all about distribution of professional videos, and that the company is aiming to serve as a point of distribution, similar to what they are doing for self-published authors. You even have to provide tax information to Amazon before uploading a video:
The launch partners give a good idea of what the market Amazon is aiming for. The press release states “AVD launch partners include: Conde Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, Samuel Goldwyn Films, The Guardian, Mashable, Mattel, StyleHaul, Kin Community, Jash, Business Insider, Machinima, TYT Network, Baby Einstein, CJ Entertainment America, Xive TV, Synergetic Distribution, Kino Nation, Journeyman Pictures, and Pro Guitar Lessons.” (Disclosure: Conde Nast owns Ars Technica.) . . .
Professionals like to get paid, and on Amazon Video Directly they’ll get “50 percent net revenue” for paid or rental purchases. For Prime viewers, the content creators are paid $0.15 an hour for US viewers, and $0.06 an hour for other countries. Ad supported content comes in at 55 percent of revenue. To jump start the program, Amazon is also launching the “AVD Stars” program, a bonus pool of a million dollars distributed every month to the top 100 videos. – Ars Technica
Why You Should Know This Prolific Princess of Paleontology – A short but interesting video profile of Dorset’s Mary Anning, who made some amazing fossil discoveries in the 19th century (time for a re-read of Amanda Quick’s Ravished?). – Smithsonian Magazine
There’s not much to this app for book readers -This free app actually sounds like it could be great, but there appear to be shortcomings at this point, including the fact that a book needs to be in the app database (many out of print books are not), and the listing order seems to be inflexible.
Shelf is a new note-taking app that allows you to save your thoughts about books right on your phone. It’s simple to use: Search for the book you’re reading, save it to a queue (books are listed by title, with their cover images) and type notes as you’re reading. Once you’re done reading, mark the book complete, and it moves to a separate queue. That’s about it. – Washington Post