Apr 21

Remarkable Growth in Future: Internet Security Software Market Qualitative Analysis on Key Players- Symantec …

HTF MI published a new industry research that focuses on Internet Security Software market and delivers in-depth market analysis and future prospects of Global Internet Security Software market. The study covers significant data which makes the research document a handy resource for managers, analysts, industry experts and other key people get ready-to-access and self-analyzed study along with graphs and tables to help understand market trends, drivers and market challenges. The study is segmented by Application/ end users [Individual Users, Enterprise Users Government Users], products type [Linux, Macintosh OS Microsoft Windows] and various important geographies like United States, EU, Japan, China, India Southeast Asia].

Get Access to sample pages @ https://www.htfmarketreport.com/sample-report/805463-global-internet-security-software-market-1

The research covers the current market size of the Global Internet Security Software market and its growth rates based on 5 year history data along with company profile of key players/manufacturers. The in-depth information by segments of Internet Security Software market helps monitor future profitability to make critical decisions for growth. The information on trends and developments, focuses on markets and materials, capacities, technologies, CAPEX cycle and the changing structure of the Global Internet Security Software Market.

The study provides company profiling, product picture and specifications, sales, market share and contact information of key manufacturers of Global Internet Security Software Market, some of them listed here are Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, AVG, Avast Software, ESET, Bitdefender, Fortinet, F-Secure, G DATA Software, Avira, Qihoo 360, Kaspersky, Panda Security, Quick Heal, Comodo, Microsoft, Rising, Cheetah Mobile AhnLab. The market is growing at a very rapid pace and with rise in technological innovation, competition and MA activities in the industry many local and regional vendors are offering specific application products for varied end-users. The new manufacturer entrants in the market are finding it hard to compete with the international vendors based on quality, reliability, and innovations in technology.

Global Internet Security Software (Thousands Units) and Revenue (Million USD) Market Split by Product Type such as Linux, Macintosh OS Microsoft Windows. Further the research study is segmented by Application such as Individual Users, Enterprise Users Government Users with historical and projected market share and compounded annual growth rate.
Geographically, this report is segmented into several key Regions, with production, consumption, revenue (million USD), and market share and growth rate of Internet Security Software in these regions, from 2012 to 2022 (forecast), covering United States, EU, Japan, China, India Southeast Asia and its Share (%) and CAGR for the forecasted period 2017 to 2022.

Read Detailed Index of full Research Study at @ https://www.htfmarketreport.com/reports/805463-global-internet-security-software-market-1 

Following would be the Chapters to display the Global Internet Security Software market.

Chapter 1, to describe Definition, Specifications and Classification of Internet Security Software, Applications of Internet Security Software, Market Segment by Regions;
Chapter 2, to analyze the Manufacturing Cost Structure, Raw Material and Suppliers, Manufacturing Process, Industry Chain Structure;
Chapter 3, to display the Technical Data and Manufacturing Plants Analysis of Internet Security Software, Capacity and Commercial Production Date, Manufacturing Plants Distribution, RD Status and Technology Source, Raw Materials Sources Analysis;
Chapter 4, to show the Overall Market Analysis, Capacity Analysis (Company Segment), Sales Analysis (Company Segment), Sales Price Analysis (Company Segment);
Chapter 5 and 6, to show the Regional Market Analysis that includes United States, EU, Japan, China, India Southeast Asia, Internet Security Software Segment Market Analysis (by Type);
Chapter 7 and 8, to analyze the Internet Security Software Segment Market Analysis (by Application) Major Manufacturers Analysis of Internet Security Software;
Chapter 9, Market Trend Analysis, Regional Market Trend, Market Trend by Product Type [Linux, Macintosh OS Microsoft Windows], Market Trend by Application [Individual Users, Enterprise Users Government Users];
Chapter 10, Regional Marketing Type Analysis, International Trade Type Analysis, Supply Chain Analysis;
Chapter 11, to analyze the Consumers Analysis of Global Internet Security Software;
Chapter 12,13, 14 and 15, to describe Internet Security Software sales channel, distributors, traders, dealers, Research Findings and Conclusion, appendix and data source.

Check for discount @ https://www.htfmarketreport.com/request-discount/805463-global-internet-security-software-market-1

What this Research Study Offers:

Global Internet Security Software Market share assessments for the regional and country level segments
Market share analysis of the top industry players
Strategic recommendations for the new entrants
Market forecasts for a minimum of 5 years of all the mentioned segments, sub segments and the regional markets
Market Trends (Drivers, Constraints, Opportunities, Threats, Challenges, Investment Opportunities, and recommendations)
Strategic recommendations in key business segments based on the market estimations
Competitive landscaping mapping the key common trends
Company profiling with detailed strategies, financials, and recent developments
Supply chain trends mapping the latest technological advancements

Buy this research report @ https://www.htfmarketreport.com/buy-now?format=1report=805463

Reasons for Buying this Report
This report provides pin-point analysis for changing competitive dynamics
It provides a forward looking perspective on different factors driving or restraining market growth
It provides a six-year forecast assessed on the basis of how the market is predicted to grow
It helps in understanding the key product segments and their future
It provides pin point analysis of changing competition dynamics and keeps you ahead of competitors
It helps in making informed business decisions by having complete insights of market and by making in-depth analysis of market segments

Thanks for reading this article; you can also get individual chapter wise section or region wise report version like North America, Europe or Asia.

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Apr 20

Supreme Court Hears Case on Internet Sales Tax

Should online retailers have to collect sales taxes for states? That’s the central question in South Dakota v. Wayfair, a case dealing with the state’s attempt to force out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes when its residents make a purchase online.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument this week about whether it should overturn Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a 1992 ruling that forbade states from requiring mail-order retailers to collect a state’s sales tax if they do not have a physical presence within that state, such as a store or employees.

Many states complain that they are losing out on millions of dollars in lost sales tax revenue given the rapid growth of online sales. South Dakota passed a law directly challenging the Quill case by requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax if they sell more than $100,000 of goods or make more than 200 transactions.

That led to the current case against Wayfair, Overstock.com, and Newegg, which all refused to comply with the law.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday. Here are three key exchanges.

Isn’t This a Problem Congress Can Solve?

A persistent theme in oral argument was the concern that Congress—not the court—is the proper branch of government to address the “dramatic technological and social changes that ha[ve] taken place in our increasingly interconnected economy,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy described the situation in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl (2015).

At the argument, Justice Samuel Alito posed this question to South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley:

There are two options, let’s say option A is eliminate Quill and states can do whatever they want with respect to retroactive liability and with respect to the minimum number of sales that are required in the state in order for the sales to be taxed, in order to require them to collect the tax. … Option B is a congressional scheme that deals with all of these problems. If those are the only two options, which is preferable?

Jackley responded that the first option is better because “Congress has had 26 years to address this issue. And it’s not Congress, but … it’s this court’s decision, that is striking down our state statutes.”

Justice Elena Kagan responded that Congress “has been aware of” this “very prominent issue” for years and “has chosen not to do something about that.” Doesn’t that make the state’s “bar higher to surmount?”

Jackley replied that since the Quill case involves interpretation of a constitutional provision, the court needs to act. And although “[s]ometimes the activity of this court will spur Congress to act … in this instance, it hasn’t.”

Justice Stephen Breyer apparently didn’t like Jackley’s response, cutting in, “No, no, but the word ‘constitutional’ is not magic. The reason that we say we are more willing to overturn a constitutional case is because Congress can’t act. But, here, they can act.”

The Commerce Clause of the Constitution grants Congress authority to regulate interstate commerce. Justice Antonin Scalia explained in his concurring opinion in the Quill case, “Congress has the final say over regulation of interstate commerce, and it can change the rule … by simply saying so.”

Alito pointed out, “[A]s things stand now, it seems that both the states and internet retailers have an incentive to ask for a congressional solution to this problem. … But if Quill is overruled, what incentives do the states have to ask for any kind of congressional legislation?”

Jackley did not have a response to that question, instead asserting that Quill “set the baseline” and if the court overrules that decision, “states will have their constitutional responsibilities to follow Complete Auto and to follow Pike” (two other Supreme Court decisions relevant to state regulation of out-of-state businesses).

The justices continued asking questions about whether Congress is better suited to address this issue when Malcolm Stewart, deputy solicitor general of the United States, stepped up to the lectern. He argued on behalf of the federal government, which supports the state’s position.

Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to know if, as a constitutional matter, there should be a minimum number of sales before a business is subject to the burdens of a state’s taxing authority. He asked, “Can the states impose the burdens on … any micro-business?”

Stewart explained, “There’s no constitutional minimum … if you have an out-of-state retailer who is deliberately selling a particular physical good within the state … that is a sufficient basis for subjecting that retailer to the tax collection obligation.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg followed up, “Isn’t that the very kind of question that Congress would be equipped to deal with, establishing a minimum?” Stewart replied, “Certainly, the fact that we don’t think there’s a constitutional minimum doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good idea and it wouldn’t hinder Congress’ ability” to enact one.

Kagan asked, “But isn’t that essentially a reason why we should leave this to Congress? In other words, from this court’s perspective, the choice is just binary. It’s … you either have the Quill rule or you don’t. But Congress is capable of crafting compromises and trying to figure out how to balance the wide range of interests involved here.”

How Will This Affect Small Businesses?

Another issue that came up several times is what impact overturning Quill and its physical presence requirement could have on small businesses.

South Dakota argues that its local brick-and-mortar businesses suffer when out-of-state businesses can sell things to its residents over the internet and avoid the administrative burdens of collecting and remitting sales taxes. But Wayfair points out that these burdens could prevent small businesses from entering the market in the first place.

George Isaacson, who argued on behalf of Wayfair, Overstock, and Newegg, explained:

[O]ver 70 percent of all small businesses have a website. And by the end of 2018, it’s estimated that 91 percent of small businesses will have a website. So the issue here is not between small in-state retailers and out-of-state direct marketers. The real competition is between the large companies, who are omni merchants, who are multi-channel merchants, who are increasingly dominating the internet.

Justice Neil Gorsuch jumped in, noting that “brick-and-mortar retailers, if they choose to operate in any given jurisdiction, have to comply with that jurisdiction. There are a lot of retailers that have to comply with lots of different jurisdictions’ rules. Why should we favor … a particular business model that relies not on brick and mortar but on mail order?”

Isaacson replied, “Borders count. States exercise their sovereignty based upon borders, territorial limits. It’s a key part of horizontal federalism in this country.”

Isaacson continued, “If there’s going to be some standard that determines when … a company subject to the tax jurisdiction of a state … the territorial limits of that state make sense.” He also pointed out that “19 of the 20 largest internet retailers already do collect tax because the nature of the market has required them to establish a local presence. Among the 100 top internet retailers, the collection rate is between 86 and 97 percent.”

But for the smaller businesses, the compliance costs can be prohibitively expensive. Isaacson explained, “[T]he cost of just implementation and integration of a software system” to calculate taxes in the nearly 12,000 tax jurisdictions across the country is “up to $250,000.”

Gorsuch shot back, “[B]ut it starts at $12 [per month for 30 transactions] … . So that figure seems a little misleading.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that this $12 figure “doesn’t include auditing. It doesn’t include integrating the program with the existing sales program of the company. It doesn’t account for the maintenance of the program.”

Isaacson further explained, “The notion of software being a silver bullet … is a real misapprehension. The actual looking up of the rate for the 12,000 different tax jurisdictions hardly scratches the surface. Retailers need to map their products against that software, which is rife with errors because common products are defined differently in different states.”

Will Overruling Quill Upset Settled Expectations?

Toward the end of his time at the lectern, Isaacson put things in perspective, explaining, “Since Quill has been in place, and there’s been a clear explanation of what the standard is for tax jurisdiction, literally thousands of companies have conformed their conduct to the standard that was … established.”

He pointed to Scalia’s concurrence in Quill, which said that “where that kind of reliance is present and companies have ordered their economic affairs in that reliance, that the adoption of stare decisis is at its acme.” Stare decisis is a set of guidelines the court uses to determine whether to uphold a prior ruling.  One guideline is the reliance interests a decision has engendered.

Sotomayor said, “I’m concerned about the many unanswered questions that overturning precedents will create a massive amount of lawsuits about” and the “dislocation … until there is congressional settlement” (assuming Congress does, in fact, take action).

After an hour of argument, a number of the justices appeared to be concerned about the fallout of a decision overruling Quill and the physical presence requirement. The oral argument seemed to raise more questions about whether such a ruling will upset the settled expectations of businesses—large and small—across the country, and whether it would lead to a wave of lawsuits.

Now, the justices will consider how to rule and issue an opinion by the end of June.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/supreme-court-hears-case-on-internet-sales-tax/

Apr 19

The internet helped kill Toys R Us, but it’s a different story for Denver’s independent toy stores

As Toys R Us inches closer to bankruptcy oblivion, Denver-area independent toy store owners aren’t licking their chops, awaiting hordes of new customers. They’re not placing big orders for Barbies or the latest superhero movie action figures in an attempt to woo shoppers.

They’re selecting items from specialty and local suppliers; scheduling game nights and other in-store events; and studying their merchandise so they can provide informed recommendations to shoppers. In short, doing the things that differentiated them from the home of Geoffrey the giraffe in the first place.

And, industry veterans and analysts say, it’s that thoughtful, experience-oriented approach that has set independent toys stores up for stability and success as larger retailers die out or lose market share to online sellers.

“Frankly, there is no change,” Rohit Meher, the owner of Wonderland Toys in Highlands Ranch, said last week when asked whether he has noticed any differences in traffic or customer behavior this year as Toys R Us’ situation worsened. “We are different from them. The people who shop at Toys R Us are migrating to Amazon.”

Rohit Meher, owner of Wonderland Toys stands for a portrait in front of some of the unique toys, that he offers at his store on April 16, 2018 in Highlands Ranch.
Rohit Meher, owner of Wonderland Toys stands for a portrait in front of some of the unique toys, that he offers at his store on April 16, 2018 in Highlands Ranch.

There are 10 Toys R Us or Babies R Us stores in Colorado, according to the company’s website, including one just a few miles from Wonderland.

Store liquidations began last month.

Meher, who opened Wonderland two years ago, says it’s too early for him to determine whether his business has been boosted by Toys R Us’ collapse. But he is employing a playbook that has benefited other independent shops in Denver and around the country: Stock unique. higher-quality merchandise — such as $50 kites — and focus on attentive, knowledgeable service for neighborhood customers.

“We’re tying to be unique — offer unique, high-quality products from all different sources,” he said. “Other than Legos, we don’t carry any products that they sell at Toys R Us. This is about people who want to shop local.”

The Wizard’s Chest knows a thing or two about being unique. Beyond being a rare combination toy store and costume shop, it’s housed in a red-and-purple building dressed up as a castle on Broadway in Denver. Its previous location, in Cherry Creek, was similarly medieval.

Co-owner Kevin Pohle said he learned about the importance of offering a fun, immersive experience from the store’s original owners, who sold him the business 15 years ago.

“You try to focus on creating an experience as opposed to creating a place for people to come buy stuff,” he said.

Almost nightly, the shop provides in-store programming, including game nights and model painting tutorials. There is some overlap in the selection at his store and at a Toys R Us, particularly on board games, Pohle said. But he stocks plenty of things you’d never see there or in a mass-market competitor such as Target or Walmart, including novelty cooking utensils and irreverent, not-safe-for-work socks. 

The approach is paying off, Pohle said. Without revealing numbers, he said his sales have grown every year since 2010. The Wizard’s Chest doubled its size — to 16,000 square feet — when it moved to 451 Broadway. The company bought its building in January. 

“They can all compete on price, because that’s what they do because they have the buying power to do that. We can’t compete on price, so we don’t,” he said. “So, yeah, Monopoly games are cheaper at Target. But if you’re coming in for a high-quality game or a game you haven’t heard of because it’s not at Target, you come to us.”

Toy sales grew in the U.S. in 2017. Sharing data from the NPD Group market research firm, the Toy Association trade group estimated that toys generated $27 billion in sales last year, up 1 percent over 2016. The research did not break down where those dollars were spent, so its unclear how much went to big boxes and online companies and how much ended up in the registers of places such as The Wizard’s Chest.

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, or ASTRA, circulated a survey among its member retailers last spring. The 138 companies that responded, representing 180 stores across the country, reported an average sales growth of 2.6 percent in 2016 over 2015, part of a steady growth trend dating to 2011. As of last month, ASTRA has eight member retailers in Colorado, including Wonderland and The Wizard’s Chest, and 932 nationwide.

“Consumers have more options and more ways to fulfill their wants and wishes than ever, but we believe that local, independent retailing is here to stay,” said ASTRA president Kimberly Mosley. “It’s been through the growth of mass market, the growth of catalog sales and online sales and it will continue to be here.”

NPD emphasized that being quick to market with in-demand products will be key for retailers seeking a slice of the growing toy-sale pie.  Amazon and other e-commerce companies have a clear advantage over independent shops when it comes to that. But Pohle views e-commerce as more of a threat to big-box retailers than to his shop because the business model is the same: Sell mass-market products cheap.

“It might kill big-box retail because the thing that you buy on Amazon is the same thing you’d buy at Target, and they’re going to do it cheaper,” he said.

University of Denver marketing professor Theresa Meier Conley thinks there’s  a different reason that brick-and-mortar stores will survive — even thrive — alongside e-commerce: human nature. Conley, whose background is in high-tech services development, including on-demand video, said research has proven that people crave connecting face to face and gathering together. This creates opportunities for such retailers, particularly innovative ones willing to do things such as market to customers online and offer them deals if they visit their stores in person.

“Retail from a brick-and-mortar perspective is going to go through a resurgence, which is going to be good for the specialty and unique retailers and not necessarily bad from an online perspective,” she said. “Toys R Us was one of a lot of larger retailers that was’t able to adjust and deal with the changes.”

Online marketing — particularly reaching shoppers through trend-driving powerhouse Facebook — is occupying the mind of Sallie Kashiwa. The owner of Timbuk Toys said she is seeking someone now to help her improve her business’ reach on the social media site. Its Facebook page has fewer than 2,000 likes right now.

It’s one of many challenges that the 25-year toy-industry veteran and operator of four metro-area stores is pondering. Other concerns include the potential impact that tariffs on metals and a trade dispute with China could have on the cost of merchandise she carries, and an across-the-board rise in the cost of doing business. Without the purchasing power of a big box, Kashiwa said she has to keep a close eye on her margins amid the rise of rent, employee wages and taxes continue.

“There cannot be a penny of waste,” she said.

Whatever the impact of e-commerce and mass-market competition, Timbuk Toys (also an ASTRA member) has grown over the past decade. Kashiwa opened her third location, in Highlands Ranch, in the middle of the recession in 2009, choosing to invest in expansion rather than lay off staff amid stagnant sales. A fourth store, in Lakewood, came in 2012.

Kashiwa echoed Conley’s view that there is value in the connections people make shopping in person. She recalls many times when friends and neighbors ran into one another at her stores when shopping for their children.

She is bullish on the future.

“I think that if you’re innovative and courageous and a really great all-around business person, it’s a fantastic time to be in the toy business because we’re always going to need toys,” she said. “Kids need great toys. They are going to be part of culture forever, and if you can be the best toy store in town you’re going to have costumers coming in your door.”

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Apr 18

Beware of Buying Yoga Pants on Facebook

Sparky Lil Spitfires is a Facebook group like any other, but with members all belonging to teams underneath the leader Jennifer Hosey. They use the group as a gathering point to swap stories, ask questions about new products, and look for advice on how to handle difficult aspects of the business—like how to deal with unruly customers or unreasonably slow shipping. Whenever a Spitfire signs on to Facebook and checks in with the group, she sees a cascade of posts touting Perfectly Posh perks, swag, contests, and fun. Spitfires also have nearly 400 members, many of whom consider each other very close friends. “This little Facebook page has so much heart and soul and love,” Patricia Frederickson, a graduate student in Georgia, told me. “Sales is the backbone, sure, but the heart of the group is in the people.”

During my time in the group, the Sparky Lil Spitfires did share tidbits from their lives, celebrating triumphs and mourning losses. But, more than anything, they posted about the Perfectly Posh products. Still, for every 10 or 20 product posts, a personal post would appear. “I see prayer requests, photos of kids, sweet dance moves, funny stories,” Frederickson said. “If you look through this page, there are sales, but there are also a lot of laughs and a strong sense of community engagement.”

She’s not wrong. When Brandi Henderson’s house burned down while she and her family were on vacation, she lost everything. In that time of turmoil, it was the Sparky Lil Spitfires group that sent her strength, both through kind words and support, and through physical items she needed just to get by day to day. “I love these people more than I love even some of my actual family,” Henderson said.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/beware-of-buying-yoga-pants-on-facebook/

Apr 17

Digital Publishing Market Growing at a 10.19% CAGR to 2022

Get complete report on Digital Publishing Market spread across 140 pages, analyzing 5 major companies and providing 91 data exhibits now available at http://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/1453710-global-digital-publishing-market-2018-2022.html .

The analysts forecast global digital publishing market to grow at a CAGR of 10.19% during the period 2018-2022. Key players in the global digital publishing market: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, and Netflix. One trend in the market is scope for varied players to enter the market. Vendors are looking to diversify their offerings and venture into new markets such as digital publishing. The boom in terms of adoption and growth of digital content across product segments.

According to the digital publishing market report, one driver in the market is increase in internet penetration and speed. Internet penetration has increased globally at a rapid rate. Hence, users can browse using their mobile devices. In 2017, half of the world’s population was online, and over 25% of the population accessed the internet for the first time.

Order a copy of Global Digital Publishing Market 2018-2022 report at http://www.reportsnreports.com/purchase.aspx?name=1453710 .

Digital publishing is concerned with the provision of content across various platforms through computerized electronic devices. The digital technology consists of a variety of platforms for video, audio, and text content, including websites, blogs, and social networking sites.

Further, the digital publishing market report states that one challenge in the market is high subscription costs. With the growing penetration of better quality mobile data services and the availability of smart devices at lower price points, internet consumption is growing globally. This report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the global digital publishing market for 2018-2022. To calculate the market size, the report presents a detailed picture of the market by way of study, synthesis, and summation of data from multiple sources.

Another related report is Global Digital Marketing Software (DMS) Market 2018-2022, the analysts forecast Global Digital Marketing Software (DMS) Market to grow at a CAGR of 16.87% during the period 2018-2022. One trend affecting this market is the increased acceptance of cross-platform and multi-channel marketing.

Key players in the Global Digital Marketing Software (DMS) Market: Adobe Systems, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce. According to the Digital Marketing Software market report, one driver influencing the market is the increasing budget for digital marketing. Browse complete Digital Marketing Software (DMS) Market 2018-2022 report at http://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/1370261-global-digital-marketing-software-dms-market-2018-2022.html .

Explore other new reports on IT Telecommunication Market at http://www.reportsnreports.com/market-research/information-technology/ .

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Apr 16

‘Like Selling Crack to Children’: A Peek Inside the Silicon Valley Grift Machine

Corey “sells the method.” He got the idea from a book called The Laptop Millionaire, which describes “a guy’s journey from being basically homeless to making money online. One of the things he talks about is making ‘information products.’” Hence Fiverr Success: $4,000 a Month, 8 Hours of Work a Week by Corey Ferreira was born, selling “hundreds” of copies.

“Fiverr is like the new eBay,” Corey said. “I remember when eBay started. I was kinda young. I was already making money then. Everybody was talking about how to make money on eBay. I remember somebody telling me, ‘During a gold rush, you should sell shovels.’ That’s kinda what I do with Fiverr,” he said.

I found Corey through his website, makefiverrmoney.com, which was a marketing vehicle for his e-book. Many buyers were full-time Fiverrers in places like the Philippines or India, where $5 went a lot further, he said. The e-book cost $17. For $50 more, Corey would throw in 100 gig ideas, 30 prerecorded video lessons, an audiobook, and an audio recording of a “webinar.” Betting on the empathic bond of our common forename, I emailed Corey to request a Skype chat. He agreed. Then I persuaded him to reveal his secrets for free.

The book marked a transition for Corey, as he spent less time doing labor-intensive web design and more time searching for the cold fusion of internet marketing: “passive income.” This was shorthand for a variety of techniques whereby one could generate wealth while sitting around doing nothing. “It comes to a point where trading your time for money — it’s limiting, you know?” Corey said. Oh, I knew.

I felt Corey had let me in on some oracular wisdom. Don’t dig for gold: Sell shovels to all the suckers who think they’ll get rich digging for gold. Selling shovels wasn’t the only way to make money in tech, but it was … the Silicon Valley way.

For a business incompetent such as myself, this concept of selling a method, rather than a straightforward product or service, was revelatory. I understood this lesson as an extension of that old saying about teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him a fish. Now the idea was: You made him pay for fishing lessons, offering student loans if necessary, and failed to mention that you had already depleted the pool. This was a smart business! In a late capitalist society with dwindling opportunities for cash-poor workers and few checks on entrepreneurial conduct, what could be better to sell than false hope? So many hungered for it.

My afternoon email arrived with a warm invitation to get in on the big grift.

Hello Mr. Pein,

My name is Aron. Lately I thought of an idea for a startup: An application where ordinary people would be able to take photos of news events, sports events, fashion events etc … Since you have already been in an organization that does similar things, I would be thrilled if you could I would love to hear from you as soon as you can …

Aron Cohen

It was a strange note. I was cautious. But I was also curious. I did some quick research on Aron. His LinkedIn résumé claimed he had worked for Israeli Army intelligence unit 8200, which is that country’s version of the National Security Agency — a sophisticated, secretive, and ambitious electronic surveillance organization that happens to produce a lot of tech entrepreneurs.

Aron looked young, but he was older than I am. His photo showed him avoiding eye contact with the camera and wearing a straight-brimmed fedora, a fashion accessory associated with a certain type of charmless chauvinist techie. Aron also expressed an enthusiasm for bitcoin. I decided to hold none of this against him. He had already shown impeccable taste in potential co-founders. I wrote back.

Hi Aron,

Thanks for contacting me and for the kind offer. Since you have done some research you must know that this is a very challenging area … What is your relevant experience? And what is your startup capital?


Aron was quick to respond. He said he had previously co-founded “a company for value added services for the mobile industry,” whatever that meant, only to fall in with “a bad person” who suckered him into some fraud. After the sob story, he got back to business.

What is the budget that you think that is appropriate for this lean start-up, bearing in mind that the professional force will be rewarded mostly with options/stocks in the company?

Aha! Here was a sign that Aron had some real experience running a tech company: He didn’t want to pay his workers. I clicked on another website I found registered to Aron, this one Bulgarian. It filled my screen with noisy, flashing pop-up ads. BECOME A SELF-MADE MILLIONAIRE, one ad said. THIS IS YOUR PERSONAL INVITATION TO EARN YOU TO [sic] $1,620.90 DAILY WITH VERIFIABLE AND UNDENIABLE PROOF! They had my attention.

The site boasted several videotaped testimonials, which all started playing at once. These newly minted millionaires were so excited they were talking over one another. “Hello … I’m a self-made millionaire.” “I am a self-made millionaire.” “I’ve been using AlgoPrime for, I think, seven months now and I’m a freaking self-made millionaire …” As the din of testimonials subsided, one voice continued speaking. It belonged to a man who claimed to be the inventor of this online moneymaking miracle. He said he had built a powerful trading program for some hedge-fund billionaires, who promptly fired him. In revenge for this treachery, he was taking his secret and giving it away … But I would never find out what happened next, because I accidentally closed the window on my computer.

The ghost in the machine was looking out for me that day, because my web browser immediately served up another, very similar pitch. This one, too, opened with a series of video testimonials. “Last year I was broke, and lost my house. By 2014, I became a millionaire,” one person said. But how? The pitch continued with faceless narration from a polished, reassuring male voice.

“Congratulations, you are about to become a millionaire, too,” he said. “All you need to do is click your mouse a few times.” The appeal was indisputable. I was already spending a lot of time clicking. I might as well get paid for it. “You can join our secret Millionaires Society today, for free. Yes, free. One hundred percent free. No catch … Look around you, there’s no Buy Now button anywhere.”

I looked around the screen. So far, this guy was telling the truth.

We’re not wannabe internet gurus trying to rip off honest guys like you in order to make a quick buck. Who am I? My name is Brad Marshall, and, yes, I’m a millionaire, too.

Brad also wanted me to understand that he was different.
“I’m not your average jerk millionaire,” he promised. He was relatable.

“Apart from being a multi-millionaire, I’m a member of a small, secret club called the Millionaires Society,” he went on.

There was a surreal quality to this semi-voluntary online advertising experience. How had I come to this place? What time was it? Was Brad a real person? Or a Fiverr actor? He swore up and down that he hadn’t hijacked my web browser in order to dupe me into some kind of scam. His secret society’s system was “one hundred percent legal and ethical,” he said. “Our software works. We have nothing to hide.” He kept repeating that: “We have nothing to hide.” Then why was it a secret society? The pitch moved so relentlessly it was impossible to hold on to such thoughts.

Nobody out there knows about this secret society, or the system we use. That’s why it’s so easy and works every single time. You are the first outsider to be let in on the secret.

Brad proceeded to deliver a fast-paced demonstration of the Millionaires Society software. “I followed a few simple steps, put two hundred fifty dollars into an account … Now look at what happens. Within minutes, we went from two fifty to five thousand three sixty-five — in just the time I’ve been talking to you,” he said. “It’s that easy.” I wasn’t sure what had happened, but Brad sounded convincing —and he had spreadsheets. “Now, let me be honest with you: Somebody who really cares about you invited you to this membership club,” Brad said. How thoughtful! Perhaps it was Aron.

Now that we had established an emotional bond, Brad got to the point. “Remember when I told you that you could join for free? Well, I lied. It’ll cost you 50,000 dollars,” he said. Oh.

Now, don’t panic … We’re giving you access to an automated system that can make you millions for years to come … You don’t need to know anything about trading … The software takes care of every thing for you.

That meager $50,000 investment would quickly pay off, Brad assured. Before I knew it, I would quickly be matching his earnings of $300,000 per month. The Millionaires Society software was so powerful that “traders from some of the biggest banks in the USA” had once sought to buy it for their own exclusive use. But  Brad had turned them down. “This is just too powerful to let it slip into the hands of the wrong people,” he said. I couldn’t agree more. Rich people simply could not be trusted with money.

I felt I had gotten closer to solving the mystery of how Aron lost his fortune. I typed “Is the Millionaires Society a scam?” into Google and clicked the search button. A few happy customers said no. But many more told me yes, the Millionaires Society was a scam — and that I should try their secret moneymaking system instead. I rebuffed Aron somewhat sternly and he slunk away for good. Whether or not his partnership offer was made in earnest, he’d clearly been involved with at least one online scam. I was not inclined to pity him. Any scam that depended on the greed of its victims also made them accomplices. Aron’s transparent greed revealed his culpability. If, however, as I suspected, his business proposal was merely another ruse — albeit a more elaborate and sophisticated one than the Millionaires Society — then there was actually something compelling about it. For if a chintzy fraudster like Aron could win and lose a small fortune with only an internet connection and an arsenal of psychological tricks, there was no limit to what a powerful corporation might be able to do, given enough budget, ambition, and manipulative technique.

With that thought still rattling in my mind, I went out to a techie happy hour, where I met Cyrus and Joe, two guys a few years out of college who worked together in the lower ranks of a tech marketing company in the Financial District. They weren’t exactly plugged in to the glamorous side of the business. Their job was “lead generation” — which, as they explained it, meant building lists of email addresses for other companies to spam with bad deals, such as offers of student loans for worthless for-profit universities.

“My bosses are so bitter,” Joe said. “My vice-president said, ‘If you understand the drug industry, you understand the tech industry.’ It’s a hustle. You’ve got to figure out how to convince people they want what you’ve got.”

Cyrus corrected Joe’s memory: “He said, ‘Internet marketing is like selling crack to children.’”

“That’s right,” Joe said, nodding.

Pushing drugs sounded even more profitable than selling shovels.

My new friends were not merely repeating their bosses’ contemptuous catchphrase — they were describing an explicit strategy tech companies used to attract and retain customers. Their job was about more than just identifying potential customers to inundate with offers. It also involved combining sophisticated psychological manipulation techniques with the massive scale and semiautomated targeting enabled by computerization.

I got a deeper look at these methods when I dropped by the annual Startup Conference at the historic downtown Fox Theater in Redwood City. Inside the auditorium, Stanford grad and start-up founder Nir Eyal captivated a crowd of several hundred with a distillation of his book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, which promised to give marketers the key to the unconscious mind.

“It all comes from the work of B.F. Skinner,” Eyal said.
Skinner, best known for his operant conditioning experiments on animals, denied the existence of free will and human dignity, once writing, “The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do.” Skinner’s monstrous theories inspired Anthony Burgess to write the horrifying scenes of psychological torture in A Clockwork Orange. Here, however, Skinner was a hero. With creative applications of the latest research in neuroscience and behavior as well as evolutionary psychology, start-up marketers could make users respond as predictably as lab rats. “What we now know is that the nucleus accumbens does not stimulate pleasure per se,” Eyal said, referring to a particular region of the brain. The key, he went on, was to trigger “the stress of desire” and then to capitalize upon “the anticipation of the reward.” This tension “is endemic to all sorts of habit-forming technologies,” he said — especially Facebook. Zuckerberg’s titanic offspring had already made news for running a secret scientific experiment that manipulated users’ emotions through the selective editing of material that appeared on their “News Feeds,” and would soon face congressional hearings for its role in spreading foreign propaganda in the 2016 elections. But the Startup Conference crowd had no inclination to dwell upon the nightmarish possibilities of these methods. Their concerns were pedestrian and practical.

Eyal presented several categories of virtual tchotchkes companies might offer in exchange for people’s money or attention. One category he called “rewards of the tribe,” which he described as “things that feel good, have an element of variability, and come from other people” — like Likes. Another category: “rewards of the hunt,” which involved “the search for resources” such as food. “In our modern society, we buy these things with money,” Eyal said. The addictive power of slot machines offered one example of how marketers could manipulate people’s animal instincts. Video-game companies like Zynga had taken those Pavlovian processes to a new level, bringing players to the peak of excitement and then hitting them up for cash, which is sort of like a mystery movie that pauses itself mid-plot-twist and demands that you insert a coin.

I wasn’t qualified to judge the neuroscientific basis of Eyal’s pitch, but pop-sci of this sort sent my bullshit detector whooping like a Klaxon. Whether or not his theories worked, it was disturbing to hear such an eagerness to exploit human behavioral tics for the sake of profit. Was this how Silicon Valley intended to make the world a better place? Was there anyone they wouldn’t empower with these manipulative tools, for the right price?

“There’s one more thing I’d like to discuss: the morality of manipulation,” Eyal went on. “I know what that nervous laughter is about … I know some of you were thinking, ‘Is this kosher?’ If you had that response, bravo.” Eyal conceded that digital gadgets may be “the cigarettes of this century,” but said he was optimistic that these addictive products could be used for “good” and to “help people live healthier, happier, more productive” lives.

Eyal wrapped up with a slide of Mahatma Gandhi, although El Chapo might’ve been a better choice. “I encourage you to build the change you wish to see in the world,” he concluded, then basked in applause.

As impoverished and self-serving as it was, Eyal’s lecture was the first and perhaps only time I heard the word “morality” emerge from the mouth of a Silicon Valley stage speaker. Most people in the industry were convinced that their work was moral because it increased consumer choice and therefore freedom. New technologies were evidence of progress and therefore innately good. And any criticism of the industry’s practices or motives therefore threatened freedom and progress. Nowhere were these attitudes plainer than in the industry’s propaganda apparatus known as the tech press.

I’d seen the obsequious behavior of the tech press at the Startup Conference. A panel of experienced reporters and editors dutifully took the stage and told a roomful of founders and investors how to better promote their start-ups. It should have occurred to them that giving such advice was not the job of a journalist. It was the job of a publicist. Out in the hall during a break, I met one of the panelists, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who’d gone on to edit CNET, a large and well-established tech site owned by CBS Interactive. In the course of our conversation, I made a critical remark about Facebook’s manipulation of users’ News Feeds. He responded with the company line, a fine example of the sort of circular reasoning that eliminated the need for moral judgment. “Facebook is a reflection of what you see on the internet,” he said, “so if you don’t like what you see on Facebook, it’s your own damn fault.” I knew that his argument was bogus — Facebook’s story-selection algorithms came with the biases of the engineers who designed them built in. But in the mind of this high-level tech journalist, there was no reason to doubt Facebook’s assertion of political neutrality, or question how the unexamined race, class, and gender biases of its designers might have influenced the decisions they made as programmers, and thus the daily media intake of billions of users.

At times, examples were made of those who departed from the script. This rarely took nudging by the industry — like overzealous hall monitors, the tech press policed their own. I met tech reporters who regarded sharp critics such as Evgeny Morozov as “cheap” and “nasty,” practically spitting his name. Anything but cheerleading was grounds for suspicion. Every moderately skeptical tech reporter I met had a private stockpile of anecdotes about company press reps threatening his or her editors — sometimes subtly, other times brazenly — with retaliation after receiving even slightly critical coverage. The publicists would often demand the assignment of reporters known to be more pliable. Or else they’d threaten to blacklist the publication. This kind of thing did happen in other areas of journalism. The difference was that in the tech press, it was not seen as a scandalous breach of ethics, but rather accepted as the way of the world. Since I’d written a number of censorious articles about the industry over the years, I feared people in Silicon Valley might not want to talk to me. But I was only flattering myself, for I had never drawn blood. Besides, very few techies were avid readers. A surprising number barely followed the news about the companies that employed them.

But when a powerful person in the Valley seriously resented his own press coverage, the offending writers would be made to pay. Never was this made clearer than with Hulk Hogan’s successful privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media in the spring of 2016, infamously bankrolled in secret by the billionaire VC Peter Thiel, who regarded Gawker as a “terrorist” organization. Although the East Coast press saw Thiel’s subterfuge for what it was — an attack on free speech — Valley players and even some in the tech press rallied behind Thiel, believing, as his fellow billionaire VC Vinod Khosla put it, that disfavored “journalists need to be taught lessons.” It worked. After Gawker filed for bankruptcy, a larger corporate media property, Fusion, bought its assets and immediately shut down the flagship site, Gawker.com, for fear of further legal harassment.

The tech press has come to occupy a strange place, for its function is more than symbiotic — it is integral to the industry. As all forms of media and commerce are gradually digitized, every manner of company aspires to become, in one sense or another, a tech company. And in Silicon Valley’s current iteration as an internet-focused start-up creation machine, these companies are fueled by the same basic resource: “eyeballs.” The fate and fortune of tech as an industry now relies on the vagaries of the human attention span. Advertising is everything.

When a tech company captures an audience, it gets more than the opportunity to sell products and ideas. It also harvests the discretely quantified and collated bits of individual user data that people hand over, wittingly and unwittingly, as they stare at their computer and smartphone screens. As valuable as this information is for what it reveals about individual consumer habits and preferences, it’s even more precious in the aggregate, as so-called big data, which can be used to predict political shifts, market trends, and even the public mood. Who knows, wins, as the old military adage goes — and this is equally true in the world of business. Watch the video, click the link, fill out the form — this is the labor that tech companies turn into profits. The people who carry out this labor consider themselves customers, but they are also uncompensated workers. The process whereby eyeballs get turned into money is mysterious, but not totally opaque — just discouragingly complicated and boring.

I spent two dismal days popping in and out of sessions at the Ad:Tech conference trying to get a better handle on this process. The conference, at the Moscone Center in downtown San Francisco, was a sprawling affair attended by thousands of smiling sharks from all corners of the advertising industry. In the expo hall, vendors peddling unregulated dietary supplements competed with dodgy exhibitors promising to “buy and deliver” web traffic. Without rampant, unchecked fraud, I came to realize, the entire digital media business would collapse.

Fraud was the hot topic that year because digital ad buyers were starting to wise up. More than two decades after the arrival of the commercialized web, a trade group finally funded a proper scientific study on the problem of online ad fraud. The study found, among other things, that marketers were losing $6.3 billion a year to various forms of fraud, much of it staged by organized criminal networks. In outline, such scams allow fraudsters to siphon the fat from corporate ad budgets by employing bots that pose as genuine consumers to click on ads. The crooks are able to grab a piece of the money advertisers are paying out because online publishers — that is, people who run websites on which the ads appear — receive a cut of the money paid to online ad sellers by the companies that buy ads. The crooks are even able to redirect ad revenue from legitimate publishers to their own fraudulent sites through a process known as “injection,” or to generate bogus clicks by hijacking users’ browsers with automated hacking tools. Several experts at the conference told me the study lowballed its multi-billion-dollar estimate of industrywide fraud losses, and that the real figure was multiples higher.

In other words, online advertising — the basis for the attention economy that fueled all speculative investment in digital media, from giants like Google on down to low-rent email marketers — was a racket.

The mechanics of the fraud are complex and technical, but it boils down to this: Companies that place online ads think they are paying based on how many potential customers will see their messages, but the ads are ineffective in actually reaching consumers. Companies in fact frequently pay for ads that are “seen” only by automated computer programs known as bots, or by low-wage workers toiling in offshore “click farms.” The bots and click-serfs drive up costs for advertisers by faking “impressions” on their online campaigns — meaning that any time an ad is recorded as being seen or clicked on, Google, Facebook, or whoever sold the ad charges the client.

While everyone at the conference was eager to talk about fraud, few were willing to discuss its implications. That’s because the profits from fraud widely benefit both of Ad:Tech’s namesake industries. If online ad fraud is as prevalent as I heard at Ad:Tech, it follows that the overall revenues of the dominant ad-based internet companies — chiefly Google and Facebook — are significantly inflated by bogus transactions. And that’s a big deal for the stock markets as a whole. A few percentage points could be the difference between a profitable quarter and a confidence-destroying slowdown in growth. There is no suggestion that either Google or Facebook is actively engaged in bot fraud or other deceptive practices, and both companies do a certain amount to police illicit use of their platforms. However, it is not in the interests of the tech companies or their investors or their business partners to aggressively police unlawful and deceptive advertising practices, which were not limited to bot fraud but also manifested as online scams like the Millionaires Society and even more nefarious enterprises. The discovery in 2017 of mind-warping child-abuse videos with millions of recorded views — real or not — on YouTube Kids seemed to be a low point. Google promised to address the problem. However, the pandemic spread of gross-out bargain-basement web ads demonstrates how dependent online media businesses are on dodgy gray- and black-market operators. “If you clean all of the bots off your platform, your click-through rates are going to drop,” says Michael Tiffany, chief executive of the White Ops security agency, which led the ad agencies’ fraud study. What this meant was simple: “Your numbers will go down.”

And if there’s anything corporate culture cannot tolerate, it’s numbers that go down.

Photo: Metropolitan

“It’s all about getting the chart that goes up,” a disaffected social-media marketing expert told me over drinks. “There’s a whole industry devoted to making charts that go up.” To illustrate his point, he pointed me to The Guardian newspaper’s now-defunct “partner zones” program, which afforded large institutional advertisers the opportunity to pay massive sums to the newspaper in exchange for the right to post promotional “news” stories on its website — a form of “sponsored content,” in the industry’s parlance. To create the all-important “chart that goes up,” the clients would then pay Facebook to generate traffic to their advertorials. Ostensibly this traffic came through “organically” promoted links targeting genuine potential customers who are so enchanted by the serendipitous appearance of an online advertorial that speaks to their personal desires that they make a conscious choice to click, read, like, and share — or so the story goes. However, the expert, who was a friend of mine, had noticed that a suspiciously high percentage of the paid traffic came from far-flung, low-wage countries such as Bhutan. So the new model supporting digital media was for floundering corporations to pay to place stories about how awesome they were, which publishers would then promote by buying phantom readers. “Then the advertisers can go to the boss and say, ‘Look, we got an article in the Guardian,’” my friend the marketing cynic said. Those phony measures of success supplied fodder for still more charts that went up — these ones for internal consumption, and used to justify the marketing-department budget to higher-ups.

But wasn’t it obvious that nobody was really reading all that crap online? “There’s nobody more gullible than a marketer chasing a trend,” he said. And no one cared about the truth so long as the charts kept going up.

*Adapted from Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley (Metropolitan Books), available April 24.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/like-selling-crack-to-children-a-peek-inside-the-silicon-valley-grift-machine/

Apr 15

Online Marketing Plan: 7 Steps To Create A Truly Effective One

You’re reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The online marketing plan is one of the most important tools for any company that wants to stand out on the internet. Competing in a world of constant change is very difficult, and here this article plays a very important role, which will help you to set different actions towards achieving your objectives.

Online marketing is crucial for any brand, regardless of its size. It is true that for many, the beginnings can be confusing, and it is normal not to fully understand what must be done to get off to a good start. Today, you will learn how to create an effective online marketing plan.

Attention! A marketing plan is not the same as an online marketing plan. A marketing plan is very general and also includes actions that have a place in the offline environment. The online marketing plan concentrate on getting and maintaining customers exclusively through digital channels. It is a very strategic in nature and involves objectives, facts and numbers. A well-created online marketing plan explains in detail all the tools, tactics and strategies that will be carried out to achieve the targeted goals.

Today, brands are facing a very stiff competition, where a business must differentiate itself in some way and face new objectives. The internet and the continuous technological advance are producing changes that in the end are going to be crucial for the success or failure of a company. You must adapt your business to everything that is happening, thus anticipating all the challenges that may arise. How? With a good online marketing plan.

Here are the essential steps to develop an effective online marketing plan.

1st Step-  Analysis of the situation

You have to know where you stand, where you are coming from and know in depth your products and services, your competition and your potential client (market analysis). In this first step, you must define your company and everything you offer, showing how the benefits you are giving differ from the other competitors.

Not only do you have to be able to describe what you offer perfectly, but you must also have a clear understanding of what your competitors sell, to offer an added value that differentiates you from all of them.

It is what is referred to as SWOT analysis, Weaknesses, Threats, Strengths and Opportunities.

Weaknesses: These are the weak points of your company. Here you must write down everything that you think limits you or reduces the evolution capacity of your business.

Threats: All those factors that may impede a strategy or reduce its efficiency, increase risk, and reduce revenues.

Strengths: What are the strengths of your company? Analyze the capabilities and resources you have, as they will serve to exploit them and take advantage of opportunities.

Opportunities: Factors of the environment that can be exploited by your company. Whether they are new market niches, new investors, more staff.

Hire an iPhone app developer that will create apps that will help with SWOT analysis of your company

2nd Step-  Discover your target audience

Developing a profile of your potential client is the next step of an online marketing plan. You can describe it according to demographic terms, age, sex, family composition, income, location, lifestyle, etc. There are questions you have to ask yourself at the time of this selection, such as, are my clients conservative or innovative? What are their hobbies? How often do they buy what you offer? What is the age bracket of people that can make use of your product?

Choose your audience based on your type of business, company size, and location. Strictly defining this is crucial, as it will be your future guide when planning campaigns and any communication. Many apps can help businesses discover their targets. You need to hire an expert iPhone app developer that will create sleek apps for your business.

3rd Step-  Analyze your goals

What do you want to achieve through this online marketing plan? Write down a list of objectives to make them measurable and know when you have achieved them. It is very important that before moving on to marketing strategies, define the objectives both short and long-term. The objectives must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and with specific times).

For example, do you expect a 15% increase in your sales every two months? Do you want to be better positioned? Do you expect your products or services to increase?

The goals depend a lot on the development of the business.

4th Step-  Develop the strategies you will use

You are at the center of your online marketing plan. Through the previous steps, you have analyzed your goals and have identified your target audience. Now is the time to detail the ways you will use to reach this audience and achieve your goals.

Identify the best tactics to carry out your online marketing plan. It is vital to have a backup plan in case your initial plan fails. This will enable you to continue with your online marketing campaign without having to start all over again.

5th Step-  Action plans

An action plan must contain aspects such as what will be done when it will be done, who are the people responsible for taking it forward, the real costs that it will have, what will be the final measurable result and so on.

Thus you will have detailed strategies so that all the activities that you carry out are well coordinated, and everything is organized.

6th Step-  Resources and budget

The effective functioning of an online marketing plan requires three important resources: investment, money, and technology.

Once the design of the strategy is done and you know how we are going to make it, it is essential to budget. You should know the financial investment that you are going to make. Part of the financial investment occurs when brands hire iPhone app developer to help his business with a sleek app.

7th Step-   Monitoring

You already have all the actions of our online marketing plan working. Now you must subject them to great control. This is done to detect possible problems and solve them as soon as possible, as well as to change or adjust what is necessary according to the circumstances. You speak of KPI (Key Performance Indicators), indicators that help you quantify all the work. Its sole objective is to improve the productivity of one or more services so that your company works in the best possible way.

In this step, all the figures obtained are evaluated and analyzed, such as clicks, visits to the web, where the traffic comes from, how much time people spend browsing your products or services. You can do this through measurement tools, such as Google Analytics.

Hopefully, these seven steps will make things easier for you when creating your online marketing plan. You have to dedicate a lot of time and effort, but the results are worth it. You need to hire an iPhone app developer that can create amazing apps that have the latest technologies to promote your business.

Permanent link to this article: http://homebiz2bizreview.net/internet-marketing/online-marketing-plan-7-steps-to-create-a-truly-effective-one/

Apr 14

The Internet Apologizes …

Something has gone wrong with the internet. Even Mark Zuckerberg knows it. Testifying before Congress, the Facebook CEO ticked off a list of everything his platform has screwed up, from fake news and foreign meddling in the 2016 election to hate speech and data privacy. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility,” he confessed. Then he added the words that everyone was waiting for: “I’m sorry.”

There have always been outsiders who criticized the tech industry — even if their concerns have been drowned out by the oohs and aahs of consumers, investors, and journalists. But today, the most dire warnings are coming from the heart of Silicon Valley itself. The man who oversaw the creation of the original iPhone believes the device he helped build is too addictive. The inventor of the World Wide Web fears his creation is being “weaponized.” Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s first president, has blasted social media as a dangerous form of psychological manipulation. “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he lamented recently.

To understand what went wrong — how the Silicon Valley dream of building a networked utopia turned into a globalized strip-mall casino overrun by pop-up ads and cyberbullies and Vladimir Putin — we spoke to more than a dozen architects of our digital present. If the tech industry likes to assume the trappings of a religion, complete with a quasi-messianic story of progress, the Church of Tech is now giving rise to a new sect of apostates, feverishly confessing their own sins. And the internet’s original sin, as these programmers and investors and CEOs make clear, was its business model.

To keep the internet free — while becoming richer, faster, than anyone in history — the technological elite needed something to attract billions of users to the ads they were selling. And that something, it turns out, was outrage. As Jaron Lanier, a pioneer in virtual reality, points out, anger is the emotion most effective at driving “engagement” — which also makes it, in a market for attention, the most profitable one. By creating a self-perpetuating loop of shock and recrimination, social media further polarized what had already seemed, during the Obama years, an impossibly and irredeemably polarized country.

The advertising model of the internet was different from anything that came before. Whatever you might say about broadcast advertising, it drew you into a kind of community, even if it was a community of consumers. The culture of the social-media era, by contrast, doesn’t draw you anywhere. It meets you exactly where you are, with your preferences and prejudices — at least as best as an algorithm can intuit them. “Microtargeting” is nothing more than a fancy term for social atomization — a business logic that promises community while promoting its opposite.

Why, over the past year, has Silicon Valley begun to regret the foundational elements of its own success? The obvious answer is November 8, 2016. For all that he represented a contravention of its lofty ideals, Donald Trump was elected, in no small part, by the internet itself. Twitter served as his unprecedented direct-mail-style megaphone, Google helped pro-Trump forces target users most susceptible to crass Islamophobia, the digital clubhouses of Reddit and 4chan served as breeding grounds for the alt-right, and Facebook became the weapon of choice for Russian trolls and data-scrapers like Cambridge Analytica. Instead of producing a techno-utopia, the internet suddenly seemed as much a threat to its creator class as it had previously been their herald.

What we’re left with are increasingly divided populations of resentful users, now joined in their collective outrage by Silicon Valley visionaries no longer in control of the platforms they built. The unregulated, quasi-autonomous, imperial scale of the big tech companies multiplies any rational fears about them — and also makes it harder to figure out an effective remedy. Could a subscription model reorient the internet’s incentives, valuing user experience over ad-driven outrage? Could smart regulations provide greater data security? Or should we break up these new monopolies entirely in the hope that fostering more competition would give consumers more options?

Silicon Valley, it turns out, won’t save the world. But those who built the internet have provided us with a clear and disturbing account of why everything went so wrong — how the technology they created has been used to undermine the very aspects of a free society that made that technology possible in the first place. —Max Read and David Wallace-Wells

(In order of appearance.)

Jaron Lanier, virtual-reality pioneer. Founded first company to sell VR goggles; worked at Atari and Microsoft.

Antonio García Martínez, ad-tech entrepreneur. Helped create Facebook’s ad machine.

Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit. Filed major gender-discrimination lawsuit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins.

Can Duruk, programmer and tech writer. Served as project lead at Uber.

Kate Losse, Facebook employee No. 51. Served as Mark Zuckerberg’s speechwriter.

Tristan Harris, product designer. Wrote internal Google presentation about addictive and unethical design.

Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka, entrepreneur who founded influential message board Something Awful.

Ethan Zuckerman, MIT media scholar. Invented the pop-up ad.

Dan McComas, former product chief at Reddit. Founded  community-based platform Imzy.

Sandy Parakilas, product manager at Uber. Ran privacy compliance for Facebook apps.

Guillaume Chaslot, AI researcher. Helped develop YouTube’s algorithmic recommendation system.

Roger McNamee, VC investor. Introduced Mark Zuckerberg to Sheryl Sandberg.

Richard Stallman, MIT programmer. Created legendary software GNU and Emacs.

How It Went Wrong, in 15 Steps

Start With Hippie Good Intentions …

Steve Jobs (left) in his parents’ garage in 1976, working on the first Apple computer with Steve Wozniak.

Photo: Db Apple/Polaris

The Silicon Valley dream was born of the counterculture. A generation of computer programmers and designers flocked to the Bay Area’s tech scene in the 1970s and ’80s, embracing new technology as a tool to transform the world for good.

Jaron Lanier: If you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big, traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. We had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs, and we had to struggle.

Antonio García Martínez: I’m old enough to remember the early days of the internet. A lot of the “Save the world” stuff comes from the origins in the Valley. The hippie flower children dropped out, and Silicon Valley was this alternative to mainstream industrial life. Steve Jobs would never have gotten a job at IBM. The original internet was built by super-geeky engineers who didn’t fully understand the commercial implications of it. They could muck around, and it didn’t matter.

Ellen Pao: I think two things are at the root of the present crisis. One was the idealistic view of the internet — the idea that this is the great place to share information and connect with like-minded people. The second part was the people who started these companies were very homogeneous. You had one set of experiences, one set of views, that drove all of the platforms on the internet. So the combination of this belief that the internet was a bright, positive place and the very similar people who all shared that view ended up creating platforms that were designed and oriented around free speech.

Can Duruk: Going to work for Facebook or Google was always this extreme moral positive. You were going to Facebook not to work but to make the world more open and connected. You go to Google to index the world’s knowledge and make it available. Or you go to Uber to make transportation affordable for everyone. A lot of people really bought into those ideals.

Kate Losse: My experience at Facebook was that there was this very moralistic sense of the mission: of connecting people, connecting the world. It’s hard to argue with that. What’s wrong with connecting people? Nothing, right?

… Then mix in capitalism on steroids.

To transform the world, you first need to take it over. The planetary scale and power envisioned by Silicon Valley’s early hippies turned out to be as well suited for making money as they were for saving the world.

Lanier: We wanted everything to be free, because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs, because we loved Steve Jobs. So you want to be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, which is absurd.

Tristan Harris: It’s less and less about the things that got many of the technologists I know into this industry in the first place, which was to create “bicycles for our mind,” as Steve Jobs used to say. It became this kind of puppet-master effect, where all of these products are puppet-mastering all these different users. That was really bad.

Lanier: We disrupted absolutely everything: politics, finance, education, media, family relationships, romantic relationships. We won — we just totally won. But having won, we have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness. We’re still acting as if we’re in trouble and we have to defend ourselves. So we kind of turned into assholes, you know?

Rich Kyanka: Social media was supposed to be about, “Hey, Grandma. How are you?” Now it’s like, “Oh my God, did you see what she wore yesterday? What a fucking cow that bitch is.” Everything is toxic — and that has to do with the internet itself. It was founded to connect people all over the world. But now you can meet people all over the world and then murder them in virtual reality and rape their pets.

The arrival of Wall Streeters didn’t help …

Just as Facebook became the first overnight social-media success, the stock market crashed, sending money-minded investors westward toward the tech industry. Before long, a handful of companies had created a virtual monopoly on digital life.

Pao: It all goes back to Facebook. It was a success so quickly, and was so admired, that it changed the culture. It went from “I’m going to improve people’s lives” to “I’m going to build this product that everybody uses so I can make a lot of money.” Then Google went public, and all of a sudden you have these instant billionaires. No longer did you have to toil for decades. So in 2008, when the markets crashed, all those people from Wall Street who were motivated by money ended up coming out to Silicon Valley and going into tech. That’s when values shifted even more. The early, unfounded optimism about good coming out of the internet ended up getting completely distorted in the 2000s, when you had these people coming in with a different set of goals.

García: I think Silicon Valley has changed. After a while, the whole thing became more sharp-elbowed. It wasn’t hippies showing up anymore. There was a lot more of the libertarian, screw-the-government ethos, that whole idea of move fast, break things, and damn the consequences. It still flies under this marketing shell of “making the world a better place.” But under the covers, it’s this almost sociopathic scene.

Ethan Zuckerman: Over the last decade, the social-media platforms have been working to make the web almost irrelevant. Facebook would, in many ways, prefer that we didn’t have the internet. They’d prefer that we had Facebook.

García: If email were being invented now and Mark Zuckerberg had concocted it, it would be a vertically integrated, proprietary thing that nobody could build on.

… And we paid a high price for keeping it free.

To avoid charging for the internet — while becoming fabulously rich at the same time — Silicon Valley turned to digital advertising. But to sell ads that target individual users, you need to grow a big audience — and use advancing technology to gather reams of personal data that will enable you to reach them efficiently.

Kyanka: Around 2000, after the dot-com bust, people were trying as hard as they could to recoup money through ads. So they wanted more people on their platforms. They didn’t care if people were crappy. They didn’t care if the people were good. They just wanted more bodies with different IP addresses loading up ads.

Harris: There was pressure from venture capital to grow really, really quickly. There’s a graph showing how many years it took different companies to get to 100 million users. It used to take ten years, but now you can do it in six months. So if you’re competing with other start-ups for funding, it depends on your ability to grow usage very quickly. Everyone in the tech industry is in denial. We think we’re making the world more open and connected, when in fact the game is just: How do I drive lots of engagement?

Dan McComas: The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs. I can tell you that from the inside, the board never asks about revenue. They honestly don’t care, and they said as much. They’re only asking about growth. When I was at Reddit, there was never a conversation at any board meeting about the users, or things that were going on that were bad, or potential dangers.

Pao: Reddit, when I was there, was about growth at all costs.

McComas: The classic comment that would come up in every board meeting was “Why aren’t you growing faster?” We’d say, “Well, we’ve grown by 40 million visitors since the last board meeting.” And the response was “That’s slower than the internet is growing — that’s not enough. You have to grow more.” Ultimately, that’s why Ellen and I were let go.

Pao: When you look at how much money Facebook and Google and YouTube print every day, it’s all about building the user base. Building engagement was important, and they didn’t care about the nature of engagement. Or maybe they did, but in a bad way. The more people who got angry on those sites — Reddit especially — the more engagement you would get.

Harris: If you’re YouTube, you want people to register as many accounts as possible, uploading as many videos as possible, driving as many views to those videos as possible, so you can generate lots of activity that you can sell to advertisers. So whether or not the users are real human beings or Russian bots, whether or not the videos are real or conspiracy theories or disturbing content aimed at kids, you don’t really care. You’re just trying to drive engagement to the stuff and maximize all that activity. So everything stems from this engagement-based business model that incentivizes the most mindless things that harm the fabric of society.

Lanier: What started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. It’s a horrible thing that was foreseen by science-fiction writers. It’s straight out of Philip K. Dick or 1984. And despite all the warnings, we just walked right into it and created mass behavior-modification regimes out of our digital networks. We did it out of this desire to be both cool socialists and cool libertarians at the same time.

Zuckerman: As soon as you’re saying “I need to put you under surveillance so I can figure out what you want and meet your needs better,” you really have to ask yourself the questions “Am I in the right business? Am I doing this the right way?”

Kyanka: It’s really sad, because you have hundreds and hundreds of bigwig, smarty-pants guys at all these analytic firms, and they’re trying to drill down into the numbers and figure out what kind of goods and products people want. But they only care about the metrics. They say, “Well, this person is really interested in AR-15s. He buys ammunition in bulk. He really likes Alex Jones. He likes surveying hotels for the best vantage points.” They look at that and they say, “Let’s serve him these ads. This is how we’re going to make our money.” And they don’t care beyond that.

Harris: We cannot afford the advertising business model. The price of free is actually too high. It is literally destroying our society, because it incentivizes automated systems that have these inherent flaws. Cambridge Analytica is the easiest way of explaining why that’s true. Because that wasn’t an abuse by a bad actor — that was the inherent platform. The problem with Facebook is Facebook.

Everything was designed to be really, really addictive.

The social-media giants became “attention merchants,” bent on hooking users no mater the consequences. “Engagement” was the euphemism for the metric, but in practice it evolved into an unprecedented machine for behavior modification.

Sandy Parakilas: One of the core things going on is that they have incentives to get people to use their service as much as they possibly can, so that has driven them to create a product that is built to be addictive. Facebook is a fundamentally addictive product that is designed to capture as much of your attention as possible without any regard for the consequences. Tech addiction has a negative impact on your health and on your children’s health. It enables bad actors to do new bad things, from electoral meddling to sex trafficking. It increases narcissism and people’s desire to be famous on Instagram. And all of those consequences ladder up to the business model of getting people to use the product as much as possible through addictive, intentional-design tactics, and then monetizing their users’ attention through advertising.

Harris: I had friends who worked at Zynga, and it was the same thing. Not how do we build games that are great for people, or that people really love, but how do we manipulate people into spending money on and creating false social obligations so your friend will plant corn on your farm? Zynga was a weed that grew through Facebook.

Losse: In a way, Zynga was too successful at this. They were making so much money that they were hacking the whole concept of Facebook as a social platform. The problem with those games is they weren’t really that social. You put money into the game, and then you took care of your fish or your farm or whatever it was. You spent a lot of time on Facebook, and people were getting addicted to it.

Guillaume Chaslot: The way AI is designed will have a huge impact on the type of content you see. For instance, if the AI favors engagement, like on Facebook and YouTube, it will incentivize divisive content, because divisive content is very efficient to keep people online. If the metric you try to optimize is likes, or the little arcs on Facebook, then the type of content people will see and share will be very different.

Roger McNamee: If you parse what Unilever said about Facebook when they threatened to pull their ads, their message was “Guys, your platform’s too good. You’re basically harming our customers. Because you’re manipulating what they think. And more importantly, you’re manipulating what they feel. You’re causing so much outrage that they become addicted to outrage.” The dopamine you get from outrage is just so addictive.

Harris: That blue Facebook icon on your home screen is really good at creating unconscious habits that people have a hard time extinguishing. People don’t see the way that their minds are being manipulated by addiction. Facebook has become the largest civilization-scale mind-control machine that the world has ever seen.

Chaslot: Tristan was one of the first people to start talking about the problem of this kind of thinking.

Harris: I warned about it at Google at the very beginning of 2013. I made that famous slide deck that spread virally throughout the company to 20,000 people. It was called “A Call to Minimize Distraction Respect Users’ Attention.” It said the tech industry is creating the largest political actor in the world, influencing a billion people’s attention and thoughts every day, and we have a moral responsibility to steer people’s thoughts ethically. It went all the way up to Larry Page, who had three separate meetings that day where people brought it up. And to Google’s credit, I didn’t get fired. I was supported to do research on the topic for three years. But at the end of the day, what are you going to do? Knock on YouTube’s door and say, “Hey, guys, reduce the amount of time people spend on YouTube. You’re interrupting people’s sleep and making them forget the rest of their life”? You can’t do that, because that’s their business model. So nobody at Google specifically said, “We can’t do this — it would eat into our business model.” It’s just that the incentive at a place like YouTube is specifically to keep people hooked.

At first, it worked — almost too well.

None of the companies hid their plans or lied about how their money was made. But as users became deeply enmeshed in the increasingly addictive web of surveillance, the leading digital platforms became wildly popular.

Pao: There’s this idea that, “Yes, they can use this information to manipulate other people, but I’m not gonna fall for that, so I’m protected from being manipulated.” Slowly, over time, you become addicted to the interactions, so it’s hard to opt out. And they just keep taking more and more of your time and pushing more and more fake news. It becomes easy just to go about your life and assume that things are being taken care of.

McNamee: If you go back to the early days of propaganda theory, Edward Bernays had a hypothesis that to implant an idea and make it universally acceptable, you needed to have the same message appearing in every medium all the time for a really long period of time. The notion was it could only be done by a government. Then Facebook came along, and it had this ability to personalize for every single user. Instead of being a broadcast model, it was now 2.2 billion individualized channels. It was the most effective product ever created to revolve around human emotions.

García: If you pulled the plug on Facebook, there would literally be riots in the streets. So in the back of Facebook’s mind, they know that they’re stepping on people’s toes. But in the end, people are happy to have the product, so why not step on toes? This is where they just wade into the whole cesspit of human psychology. The algorithm, by default, placates you by shielding you from the things you don’t want to hear about. That, to me, is the scary part. The real problem isn’t Facebook — it’s humans.

McNamee: They’re basically trying to trigger fear and anger to get the outrage cycle going, because outrage is what makes you be more deeply engaged. You spend more time on the site and you share more stuff. Therefore, you’re going to be exposed to more ads, and that makes you more valuable. In 2008, when they put their first app on the iPhone, the whole ballgame changed. Suddenly Bernays’s dream of the universal platform reaching everybody through every medium at the same time was achieved by a single device. You marry the social triggers to personalized content on a device that most people check on their way to pee in the morning and as the last thing they do before they turn the light out at night. You literally have a persuasion engine unlike any created in history.

No one from Silicon Valley was held accountable …

No one in the government — or, for that matter, in the tech industry’s user base — seemed interested in bringing such a wealthy, dynamic sector to heel.

García: The real issue is that people don’t assign moral agency to algorithms. When shit goes sideways, you want someone to fucking shake a finger at and scream at. But Facebook just says, “Don’t look at us. Look at this pile of code.” Somehow, the human sense of justice isn’t placated.

Parakilas: In terms of design, companies like Facebook and Twitter have not prioritized features that would protect people against the most malicious cases of abuse. That’s in part because they have no liability when something goes wrong. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which was originally envisioned to protect free speech, effectively shields internet companies from the actions of third parties on their platforms. It enables them to not prioritize the features they need to build to protect users.

McNamee: In 2016, I started to see things that concerned me. First it was the Bernie memes, the way they were spreading. Then there was the way Facebook was potentially conferring a significant advantage to negative campaign messages in Brexit. Then there were the Russian hacks on our own election. But when I talked to Dan Rose, Facebook’s vice-president of partnerships, he basically throws the Section 230 thing at me: “Hey, we’re a platform, not a media company.” And I’m going, “You’ve got 1.7 billion users. If the government decides you’re a media company, it doesn’t matter what you assert. You’re messing with your brand here. I’m really worried that you’re gonna kill the company, and for what?” There is no way to justify what happened here. At best, it’s extreme carelessness.

… Even as social networks became dangerous and toxic.

With companies scaling at unprecedented rates, user security took a backseat to growth and engagement. Resources went to selling ads, not protecting users from abuse.

Lanier: Every time there’s some movement like Black Lives Matter or #MeToo, you have this initial period where people feel like they’re on this magic-carpet ride. Social media is letting them reach people and organize faster than ever before. They’re thinking, Wow, Facebook and Twitter are these wonderful tools of democracy. But it turns out that the same data that creates a positive, constructive process like the Arab Spring can be used to irritate other groups. So every time you have a Black Lives Matter, social media responds by empowering neo-Nazis and racists in a way that hasn’t been seen in generations. The original good intention winds up empowering its opposite.

Parakilas: During my time at Facebook, I thought over and over again that they allocated resources in a way that implied they were almost entirely focused on growth and monetization at the expense of user protection. The way you can understand how a company thinks about what its key priorities are is by looking at where they allocate engineering resources. At Facebook, I was told repeatedly, “Oh, you know, we have to make sure that X, Y, or Z doesn’t happen.” But I had no engineers to do that, so I had to think creatively about how we could solve problems around abuse that was happening without any engineers. Whereas teams that were building features around advertising and user growth had a large number of engineers.

Chaslot: As an engineer at Google, I would see something weird and propose a solution to management. But just noticing the problem was hurting the business model. So they would say, “Okay, but is it really a problem?” They trust the structure. For instance, I saw this conspiracy theory that was spreading. It’s really large — I think the algorithm may have gone crazy. But I was told, “Don’t worry — we have the best people working on it. It should be fine.” Then they conclude that people are just stupid. They don’t want to believe that the problem might be due to the algorithm.

Parakilas: One time a developer who had access to Facebook’s data was accused of creating profiles of people without their consent, including children. But when we heard about it, we had no way of proving whether it had actually happened, because we had no visibility into the data once it left Facebook’s servers. So Facebook had policies against things like this, but it gave us no ability to see what developers were actually doing.

Kyanka: It’s important to have rules and to follow through on them. When I started my forum Something Awful, one of my first priorities was to create a very detailed, comprehensive list spelling out what is allowed and what is not allowed. The problem with Twitter is they never defined themselves. They’re trying to put up the false pretense that they’re banning the alt-right, but it’s just a metrics game. They don’t have anyone who can direct the community and communicate with the community, so they’re just revving their tires in the sand. They’re a bunch of math nerds who probably haven’t left their own business in years, so they have no idea how to actually speak to females or people with other viewpoints without going to wikiHow. They’ve got no future unless they can go to the person who is currently teaching Mark Zuckerberg how to be a human being.

McComas: Ultimately the problem Reddit has is the same as Twitter: By focusing on growth and growth only, and ignoring the problems, they amassed a large set of cultural norms on their platforms that stem from harassment or abuse or bad behavior. They have worked themselves into a position where they’re completely defensive and they can just never catch up on the problem. I don’t see any way it’s going to improve. The best they can do is figure out how to hide the bad behavior from the average user.

… And even as they invaded our privacy.

The more features Facebook and other platforms added, the more data users willingly, if unwittingly, released to them and the data brokers who power digital advertising.

Richard Stallman: What is data privacy? That means that if a company collects data about you, it should somehow protect that data. But I don’t think that’s the issue. The problem is that these companies are collecting data about you, period. We shouldn’t let them do that. The data that is collected will be abused. That’s not an absolute certainty, but it’s a practical extreme likelihood, which is enough to make collection a problem.

Kyanka: No matter where you go, especially in this country, advertisers follow. And when advertisers follow, they begin thought groups, and then think tanks, and then they begin building up these gigantic structures dedicated to stealing as much data and seeing how far they can push boundaries before somebody starts pushing back.

Losse: I’m not surprised at what’s going on now with Cambridge Analytica and the scandal over the election. For long time, the accepted idea at Facebook was: Giving developers as much data as possible to make these products is good. But to think that, you also have to not think about the data implications for users. That’s just not your priority.

Pao: Nobody wants to take responsibility for the election based on how people were able to manipulate their platform. People knew they gave Facebook permission to share their information with developers, even if the average user didn’t understand the implications. I know I didn’t understand the implications — how much that information could be used to manipulate our emotions.

Stallman: I never tell stores who I am. I never let them know. I pay cash and only cash for that reason. I don’t care whether it’s a local store or Amazon — no one has a right to keep track of what I buy.

Then came 2016.

The election of Donald Trump and the triumph of Brexit, two campaigns powered in large part by social media, demonstrated to tech insiders that connecting the world — at least via an advertising-surveillance scheme — doesn’t necessarily lead to that hippie utopia.

Lanier: A lot of the rhetoric of Silicon Valley that has a utopian ring about creating meaningful communities where everybody’s creative and people collaborate — I was one of the first authors on some of that rhetoric a long time ago. So it kind of stings for me to see it misused. I used to talk about how virtual reality could be a tool for empathy. Then I see Mark Zuckerberg talking about how VR could be a tool for empathy while being profoundly non-empathic — using VR to tour Puerto Rico after the hurricane. One has this feeling of having contributed to something that’s gone very wrong.

Kyanka: My experience with Reddit and my experience with 4chan, if you combine them together, is probably under eight minutes total. But both of them are inadvertently my fault, because I thought they were so terrible that I kicked them off of Something Awful. And then somehow they got worse.

Chaslot: I realized personally that things were going wrong in 2011, when I was working at Google. I was working on this YouTube recommendation algorithm, and I realized that the algorithm was always giving you the same type of content. For instance, if I give you a video of a cat and you watch it, the algorithm thinks, Oh, he must really like cats. That creates these feeder bubbles where people just see one type of information. But when I notified my managers at Google and proposed a solution that would give a user more control so he could get out of the feeder bubble, they realized that this type of algorithm would not be very beneficial for watch time. They didn’t want to push that, because the entire business model is based on watch time.

Harris: A lot of people feel enormously regretful about how this has turned out. I mean, who wants to be part of the system that is sending the world in really dangerous directions? I wasn’t personally responsible for it — I called out the problem early. But everybody in the industry knows we need to do things differently. That kind of conscience is weighing on everybody. The reason I’m losing sleep is I’m worried that the fabric of society will fall apart if we don’t correct these things soon enough. We’re talking about people’s lives.

McComas: I fundamentally believe that my time at Reddit made the world a worse place. That sucks. It sucks to have to say that about myself.

Employees are starting to revolt.

Tech-industry executives aren’t likely to bite the hand that feeds them. But maybe their employees — the ones who signed up for the mission as much as the money — can rise up and make a change.

García: Some Facebook employees felt uncomfortable when they went back home over Thanksgiving, after the election. They suddenly had all these hard questions from their mothers, who were saying, “What the hell? What is Facebook doing?” Suddenly they were facing flak for what they thought was a supercool job.

Harris: There’s a massive demoralizing wave that is hitting Silicon Valley. It’s getting very hard for companies to attract and retain the best engineers and talent when they realize that the automated system they’ve built is causing havoc everywhere around the world. So if Facebook loses a big chunk of its workforce because people don’t want to be part of that perverse system anymore, that is a very powerful and very immediate lever to force them to change.

Duruk: I was at Uber when all the madness was happening there, and it did affect recruiting and hiring. I don’t think these companies are going to go down because they can’t attract the right talent. But there’s going to be a measurable impact. It has become less of a moral positive now — you go to Facebook to write some code and then you go home. They’re becoming just another company.

McNamee: For three months starting in October 2016, I appealed to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg directly. I did it really politely. I didn’t talk to anybody outside Facebook. I did it as a friend of the firm. I said, “Guys, I think this election manipulation has all the makings of a crisis, and I think you need to get on top of it. You need to do forensics, and you need to determine what, if any, role you played. You need to make really substantive changes to your business model and your algorithms so the people know it’s not going to happen again. If you don’t do that, and it turns out you’ve had a large impact on the election, your brand is hosed.” But if you can’t convince Mark and Sheryl, then you have to convince the employees. One approach, which has never been tested in the tech world, is what I would characterize as the Ellsberg strategy: Somebody on the inside, like Daniel Ellsberg releasing the Pentagon Papers, says, “Oh my God, something horrible is going on here,” and the resulting external pressure forces a change. That’s the only way you have a snowball’s chance in hell of triggering what would actually be required to fix things and make it work.

To fix it, we’ll need a new business model …

If the problem is in the way the Valley makes money, it’s going to have to make money a different way. Maybe by trying something radical and new — like charging users for goods and services.

Parakilas: They’re going to have to change their business model quite dramatically. They say they want to make time well spent the focus of their product, but they have no incentive to do that, nor have they created a metric by which they would measure that. But if Facebook charged a subscription instead of relying on advertising, then people would use it less and Facebook would still make money. It would be equally profitable and more beneficial to society. In fact, if you charged users a few dollars a month, you would equal the revenue Facebook gets from advertising. It’s not inconceivable that a large percentage of their user base would be willing to pay a few dollars a month.

Lanier: At the time Facebook was founded, the prevailing belief was that in the future there wouldn’t be paid people making movies and television, because armies of unpaid volunteers, organized through our networks, would make superior content, just like happened with Wikipedia. But what actually happened is when people started paying for Netflix, we got what we call Peak TV. Things got much better as a result of it being monetized to subscribers. So if we outlawed advertising and asked people to pay directly for things like Facebook, the only customer would be the user. There would no longer be third parties paying to influence you. We would also pay people who opt to provide their data, which would become a source of economic growth. In that situation, I think we would have a chance of achieving Peak Social Media. We might actually see things improve a great deal.

… And some tough regulation.

Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress on April 10.

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

While we’re at it, where has the government been in all this? 

Stallman: We need a law. Fuck them — there’s no reason we should let them exist if the price is knowing everything about us. Let them disappear. They’re not important — our human rights are important. No company is so important that its existence justifies setting up a police state. And a police state is what we’re heading toward.

Duruk: The biggest existential problem for them would be regulation. Because it’s clear that nothing else will stop these companies from using their size and their technology to just keep growing. Without regulation, we’ll basically just be complaining constantly, and not much will change.

McNamee: Three things. First, there needs to be a law against bots and trolls impersonating other people. I’m not saying no bots. I’m just saying bots have to be really clearly marked. Second, there have to be strict age limits to protect children. And third, there has to be genuine liability for platforms when their algorithms fail. If Google can’t block the obviously phony story that the kids in Parkland were actors, they need to be held accountable.

Stallman: We need a law that requires every system to be designed in a way that achieves its basic goal with the least possible collection of data. Let’s say you want to ride in a car and pay for the ride. That doesn’t fundamentally require knowing who you are. So services which do that must be required by law to give you the option of paying cash, or using some other anonymous-payment system, without being identified. They should also have ways you can call for a ride without identifying yourself, without having to use a cell phone. Companies that won’t go along with this — well, they’re welcome to go out of business. Good riddance.

Maybe nothing will change.

The scariest possibility is that nothing can be done — that the behemoths of the new internet are too rich, too powerful, and too addictive for anyone to fix.

McComas: I don’t think the existing platforms are going to change.

García: Look, I mean, advertising sucks, sure. But as the ad tech guys say, “We’re the people who pay for the internet.” It’s hard to imagine a different business model other than advertising for any consumer internet app that depends on network effects.

Pao: You have these people who have developed these wide-ranging problems, but they haven’t used their skill and their innovation and their giant teams and their huge coffers to solve them. What makes you think they’re going to change and care about these problems today?

Losse: I don’t see Facebook’s business being profoundly affected by this. It doesn’t matter what people say — they’ve come to consider the infrastructure as necessary to their lives, and they’re not leaving it.

… Unless, at the very least, some new people are in charge.

If Silicon Valley’s problems are a result of bad decision-making, it might be time to look for better decision-makers. One place to start would be outside the homogeneous group currently in power.

Losse: When I was writing speeches for Mark Zuckerberg, I spent a lot of time thinking about what the pushback would be on his vision. For me, the obvious criticism is: Why should people give up their power to this bigger force, even if it’s doing all these positive things and connecting them to their friends? That was the hardest thing for Zuckerberg to get his head around, because he has been in control of this thing for so long, from the very beginning. If you’re Mark, you’d be thinking, What do they want? I did all this. I am in control of it. But it does seem like the combined weight of the criticism is starting to wear him thin.

Pao: I’ve urged Facebook to bring in people who are not part of a homogeneous majority to their executive team, to every product team, to every strategy discussion. The people who are there now clearly don’t understand the impact of their platforms and the nature of the problem. You need people who are living the problem to clarify the extent of it and help solve it.

Losse: At some point, they’re going to have to understand the full force of the critique they’re facing and respond to it directly.

With Regrets

“The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today. The fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponize the web at scale.” —Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web

“We really believed in social experiences. We really believed in protecting privacy. But we were way too idealistic. We did not think enough about the abuse cases.” —Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook

“Let’s build a comprehensive database of highly personal targeting info and sell secret ads with zero public scrutiny. What could go wrong?” —Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay

“I don’t have a kid, but I have a nephew that I put some boundaries on. There are some things that I won’t allow; I don’t want them on a social network.” —Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.” —Sean Parker, first president of Facebook

“I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, What did we bring to the world?” —Tony Fadell, Known as one of the“fathers of  the iPod”

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. This is not about Russians’ ads. This is a global problem.” —Chamath Palihapitiya, former VP of user growth at Facebook

“The government is going to have to be involved. You do it exactly the same way you regulated the cigarette industry. Technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and product designers are working to make those products more addictive. We need to rein that back.” —Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

Things That Ruined the Internet

Cookies (1994)
The original surveillance tool of the internet. Developed by programmer Lou Montulli to eliminate the need for repeated log-ins, cookies also enabled third parties like Google to track users across the web. The risk of abuse was low, Montulli thought, because only a “large, publicly visible company” would have the capacity to make use of such data. The result: digital ads that follow you wherever you go online.

The Farmville vulnerability (2007)  
When Facebook opened up its social network to third-party developers, enabling them to build apps that users could share with their friends, it inadvertently opened the door a bit too wide. By tapping into user accounts, developers could download a wealth of personal data — which is exactly what a political-consulting firm called Cambridge Analytica did to 87 million Americans.

Algorithmic sorting (2006)
It’s how the internet serves up what it thinks you want — automated calculations based on dozens of hidden metrics. Facebook’s News Feed uses it every time you hit refresh, and so does YouTube. It’s highly addictive — and it keeps users walled off in their own personalized loops. “When social media is designed primarily for engagement,” tweets Guillaume Chaslot, the engineer who designed YouTube’s algorithm, “it is not surprising that it hurts democracy and free speech.”

The “like” button (2009)
Initially known as the “awesome” button, the icon was designed to unleash a wave of positivity online. But its addictive properties became so troubling that one of its creators, Leah Pearlman, has since renounced it. “Do you know that episode of Black Mirror where everyone is obsessed with likes?” she told Vice last year. “I suddenly felt terrified of becoming those people — as well as thinking I’d created that environment for everyone else.”

Pull-to-refresh (2009)
Developed by software developer Loren Brichter for an iPhone app, the simple gesture — scrolling downward at the top of a feed to fetch more data — has become an endless, involuntary tic. “Pull-to-refresh is addictive,” Brichter told The Guardian last year. “I regret the downsides.”

Pop-up ads (1996)  
While working at an early blogging platform, Ethan Zuckerman came up with the now-ubiquitous tool for separating ads from content that advertisers might find objectionable. “I really did not mean to break the internet,” he told the podcast Reply All. “I really did not mean to bring this horrible thing into people’s lives. I really am extremely sorry about this.”

Brian Feldman

*This article appears in the April 16, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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