Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report 2019

Anne says: It’s that time of the year again – when Mary Meeker releases her Internet Trends report. This isn’t just any report, Mary Meeker has been producing these studies of internet usage and trends since 1995. As always, there’s a lot in it – 334 pages to be exact. It’s hard to review this without saying: “Read the report”. However, the alternative I recommend is watch the YouTube presentation (around 30 minutes – rapid fire) and you’ll find areas that interest you. 

Here’s a couple of the high level starting figures:

  • 51 percent of the world — 3.8 billion people — were internet users last year, up from 49 percent (3.6 billion) in 2017.
  • Asia Pacific has the highest rate of users – it includes China and India.
  • Images are increasingly the means by which people communicate – more than 50 percent of Twitter impressions now involve posts with images, video or other media.
  • The number of interactive gamers worldwide grew 6 percent to 2.4 billion people last year, as interactive games like Fortnite become the new social media for certain people. 
  • Privacy is a big issue – it’s too early, but expect some changes to advertising models and revenue to be impacted. 

Some key highlights, summarised by other media outlets:

I’ll review in more detail over the coming weeks, including the sections on Education, Healthcare, use of images, and Freemium Business models. 


Flying taxis to launch in Melbourne next year

Anne says: I’ve written previously about flying taxis and in particular, an article about the psychological barriers to using them. Well, if you live in Melbourne, you’re about to get the opportunity to fly in an Uber Air flying taxi! But – before you get excited – read the post about the psychological barriers. 

It appears the service will be commercially available from 2023. The route mentioned is the Melbourne Airport to CBD run, or flight or shuttle (wonder what we’ll call it?). And you’ll use your Uber app to select the service. There’s not a lot of detail, just the early press release announcement, which means you have plenty of time to decide if you could actually do it. 

We’d love to hear what barriers you think there will be? Or if you’d fly in one?


The restaurant owner who asks for 1-star Yelp reviews

Helen says: Reviews and ratings are common place on ecommerce platforms – just google ‘the impact of online reviews’ to get an idea of why. You will find lots of discussions and studies claiming anywhere up to 90% of consumers admit being influenced by reviews. If such influence is to be believed, then it should come as no surprise to find articles such as 5-Star Phonies: Inside the Fake Amazon Complex, which, by the way, shares some fascinating insights into a whole fake-review economy. It seems that where ever there is money to be made there’s a scammer to be found!

However, what really caught my attention this week was the story of a business owner going out of his way to get 1 star Yelp reviews for his establishment. Considering a Harvard Business Review Working Paper found that ‘a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue,’ his action was both brave and bold. He went so far as to incentivise customers to leave a 1-star review, at first offering a 25% discount and then he upped it to 50%. Why? He was sick of the control Yelp had over his business and his reputation. He questioned the authenticity of their reviews and the sales tactics Yelp adopted. He decided to challenge the norm and instead of chasing 5 stars he aimed to become the worst rated restaurant on Yelp. You’ll have to read the article to find out how he faired. There are always two sides to the story but it’s an entertaining read and I admire his conviction and his grit.


Zuckerberg ‘DeepFake’ highlights dangers of new technology

Joel says: Well it seems deepfakes have made their way back into the news again this week. I wrote a piece about deepfakes for the blog last year talking about what they are and why people are freaking out about them that you can read if this term is something new to you.

This week a video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began doing the rounds. In the clip Mark appears to be boasting about controlling the personal data of billions. The thing is this clip is completely fake. It uses deepfake AI technology to create a very convincing video, and if you weren’t aware of what Mark Zuckerberg’s real voice sounded like, you’d likely believe he really recorded himself saying it.  

This video has been created by an Israeli startup called Canny AI and was seemingly put out there to showcase their technology and try to challenge Facebook’s own policies on ‘fake news’ after they refused to block the sharing of a video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that had been doctored to make her appear drunk or impaired last month.

Although the motives behind this video appear to be challenging the fake news movement it does highlight that the creation of deepfakes could potentially have massive consequences. In the age of social media we live in, many get their ‘news’ based on headlines in a news feed, not questioning if what they see on the internet is real or not. Imagine if a video started circulating in which a known politician appeared to be delivering an extremist or racist speech. I know at least a couple of world leaders that would retaliate first and question it’s authenticity later – maybe even leading to fake news starting WW3. That’s a crazy example, yet who knows what the ramifications could be.

But it appears some people are already thinking of that. In another piece over on cNet, ‘New tool debunks deepfakes of Trump and other world leaders‘ talks about a tool that researchers have created to assist in identifying deepfakes that emulate the world’s most powerful people using a ‘soft biometric model’ that compares the deepfake video with a database of unique hand expressions and head movements the ‘real’ leaders use. 


The Massively Popular Construction Guy Influencer Account Was Actually Created By An Ad Agency To Sell Coffee

Jakkii says: From me this week: a clever advertising campaign that used an “anti-Influencer” to tap into the distrust (and, for some, scorn) of Instagram “Influencers,” rather ironically turning him into an Influencer in his own right after the campaign proved wildly successful. It does beg the question – is it ethical to advertise or market to people by pretending you’re not really doing so? Certainly in Australia, Influencers who have been paid to promote a product are required to make this clear in their post, most commonly utilising the hashtag ‘#ad’. Similarly, if a product has been provided for free – even if no money has changed hands – that must also be disclosed. Creating an entire account that purports to be a regular Joe who, in fact, does not actually run the account nor have much say in it (according to the article) is certainly skating on thin ice, if not entirely flouting the advertising disclosure requirements.

It also raises some interesting musings about ‘influence’ and what it means to be influential – take the recent case of an Instagram Influencer who reportedly couldn’t sell shirts. Is it that the Influencer isn’t really influential at all? How do we define Influence, and when do we cross that line? A wildly popular celebrity who would be reasonably considered to be influential can easily ruin that goodwill by promoting products that are either harmful (I’m looking at you, Kardashians, and your ridiculous obsession with flat tummy products) or fall completely out of their wheelhouse and what a follower or fan would expect of them. There’s also an argument to be made about the relative effectiveness of what are being called ‘micro-influencers’ who have much smaller follower counts (some sub-10,000, depending on the person and their niche) – the idea being that they have a much stronger, more connected follower-base and are more likely to be truly influential.

Ultimately, I’m not one to dismiss the idea of being or using an Influencer just because it might sound silly to sum – I think they can potentially add real value to brands who choose to work with them. However, I can’t deny I did have a giggle at the cheek of this campaign, and hope you get a bit of a kick out of it as well.


This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR


Sydney Business Insights – The Future This Week Podcast

This week: Apple’s privacy push cuts out marketers, marketing to the algorithm and robot furniture. Sandra Peter (Sydney Business Insights) and Kai Riemer (Digital Disruption Research Group) meet once a week to put their own spin on news that is impacting the future of business in The Future, This Week.

Our Guest: Andrew Baxter

The stories this week:

00:45 – “Sign in with Apple” blocks marketers’ access to email addresses 

18:16 – North Face gaming algorithms leaves Wikipedia unhappy 

Robot of the week:

32:46 – IKEA introduces robotic furniture

Other stories we bring up: 

Tim Cook’s speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Europe  

Our previous discussion of Apple selling privacy here and here   

Sign In With Apple vs Google and Facebook  

The asocial network

The Trump socks 

Instagram has no organic reach 

Wired explains ‘Amazon’s choice’

Wikipedia says North Face manipulated its site


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