The internet is just too big
Good morning! This Friday, Twitter investigates its role in the election, Amazon fights back against scammers, nothing happened to TikTok, everybody's mad at Google and the ad biz is set for a big 2021.
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Twitter said it labeled 300,000 tweets around the election, either adding context or stating that the information in the tweet was not correct. Which seems like a big number! But also a very small one, given that there were apparently 150 million election-related tweets sent in those two weeks, and several billion tweets overall.
The numbers come from a new report on Twitter's election-season operations, which shows the platform did fairly well but has clear room to improve. It also shows how much the internet warps our sense of scale, and how good enough isn't good enough:
It's not just Twitter, either: YouTube said that when people search for election-related content, 88% of the top results are high-authority sources. (Let's leave aside the question of what "high-authority" means.) Big number! That still means that 12% of what appeared on the internet's second-largest search engine was problematic in some way. That is an awful lot of stuff.
The election post-mortems are only beginning for social platforms, but it seems like they're going to have to reckon not just with their specific actions, but also with their hugeness, which makes them effectively impossible to control.
Amazon's suing two influencers and 11 sellers for engaging in what I can only describe as the 2020 version of that street seller who says "You want the real stuff?" and then takes you behind a curtain to find the really good Koach bags and Praba belts.
Amazon's always going to have troubles like this because the platform is set up to run almost entirely without involvement. Amazon says that "99.9% of all products viewed by customers on Amazon have not received a valid counterfeit complaint," but even that number means a lot of things slip through the cracks. It also speaks to the size and breadth of Amazon's platform that it has to keep an eye on TikTok just to keep up. Securing your own real estate isn't always enough.
Every company of sufficient size has one of these, I suspect: the problem you feel you've mostly solved, until you realize mostly doesn't solve it at all.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn't said much about the election, but he doesn't believe the conspiracy theories:
A group of 165 organizations and companies asked the EU to do more against Google, and do it fast:
And Amy Klobuchar isn't against breaking Google up:
Instagram launched a big redesign, and Adam Mosseri acknowledged how much it was influenced by TikTok:
Gary Marcus offered a fun example to explain the limitations of AI:
Mastercard expanded its City Possible™ network and capabilities, whose unique solutions now reach over 500 communities in over 50 countries worldwide. The partnership framework focuses on building more inclusive and sustainable cities by increasing access to city services, expanding urban mobility solutions, and informing an inclusive recovery through data driven insights.
Guido van Rossum is joining Microsoft. The Python creator said he doesn't know exactly what he'll be doing in the company's Developer Division, but his title probably won't be as cool as his last: Python's Benevolent Dictator for Life.
Christopher Krebs may be on the outs at Homeland Security. He's been telling people close to him that the White House will fire him soon.
Mauricio Peña is Waymo's new chief safety officer. He joins from Virgin Orbit.
Anna Barber is now a partner at M13. The former Techstars exec will also run the firm's internal venture studio, called Launchpad.
"A man writes a Tripadvisor review" is hardly how you'd start a crime novel, and yet here we are: with a man in jail in Thailand for criticizing a local resort, and Tripadvisor stuck figuring out how to both help the guy and keep the platform honest. I can't imagine booking a stay at a place with this warning on the page, but I can definitely imagine the Sea View Resort quickly becoming a TikTok challenge.
Find out how cities will reimagine what growth means for everyone in today's digital economy. Mastercard's experts weigh in on the future of cities.
Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your weekend; see you Sunday.